France 'most welcoming country'
10:23am Tuesday 15th July 2014 in © Press Association 2014
It might come as a shock to some Britons but France is seen as the most welcoming country in Europe.
The accolade has come from Chinese tourists who were asked to name the country showing the most hospitality to travellers.
Australia topped the list, followed by Singapore, with France and New Zealand equal third.
The next most welcoming European countries, in 10th-equal place, were the UK and Germany in statistics compiled by Hotels.com.
France also beat the UK, and other European countries, on a list of places Chinese travellers would like to go to and also to which they have been.
Topping the wish list was Australia, with France second and New Zealand third. The UK was seventh.
The country the Chinese had visited most was the US, with France fifth and the UK sixth.
Of the destinations searched for by Chinese travellers on Hotels.com in the first five months of this year, Hong Kong was top, with Paris ninth and London 13th. The French and the UK capitals were the only European destinations in the top 20 in this category.
The Chinese were the biggest spenders on hotel accommodation in Australia, Japan, Holland and New Zealand last year.
In France they were the third-biggest spenders, while in the UK they were the eighth-biggest.
Hotels.com said by 2017 it is predicted that Chinese tourists will spend £1 billion in the UK, an increase of 84% compared with 2013 figures.
Matt Walls of Hotels.com said: "Chinese travellers appear to be prioritising destinations that are most welcoming to them. In Europe we are seeing France win out against other countries as a result of its efforts to make it easier for Chinese people to visit.
"Until recently, the UK's visa processes have acted as a deterrent to many Chinese visitors due to their complexity. However, the reforms announced recently should make a considerable difference. The sooner these changes are introduced, the sooner UK businesses can benefit from the upsurge in international travel by the Chinese."
A total of 3,000 Chinese international travellers and 3,000 worldwide hoteliers were surveyed.