The number of tourists in Italy in 2006 grew by 11.5 per cent compared to 2005 figures, according to a report by the Touring Club Italiano. The positive swerve comes after several years of fluctuating tourist numbers. With 37 million international visitors in 2006, Italy retained its position as fifth on the list of most popular tourist destinations in the world but was still way behind leader France (76 million visitors). Spain, the United States and China also attracted more tourists than Italy last year.

Germans represented the largest tourist presence in Italy in 2006, accounting for 20 per cent of international visitors. The Americans and French drew in second place at 9.8 per cent of visitors, and the UK came third with 8 per cent. However, statistics reveal that the number of German tourists to the country actually fell (down 10 per cent from 2005) while the number of French and Swiss tourists grew by 16 per cent and 35 per cent respectively. Tourists spent a total of