China is climbing higher in the world table of international tourist destinations. The Madrid-based World Tourism Organisation said the number of international travellers worldwide increased 5 per cent last year and the amount they spent rose 8 per cent. There was no change in the top four destinations, but China overtook Britain to take fifth place. The organisation's figures do not necessarily match statistics produced in the destinations. The organisation works with the authorities in China to create its own methodology to measure totals. Tourism authorities on the mainland continue to use their own system to produce a different and larger total - 51 million visitors last year. That compares with the 26 million counted by the tourism organisation. The difference is primarily in the number of travellers moving between Hong Kong and China. Most of these were deducted by the World Tourism Organisation. The broad definition for visitors is those travellers who stay overnight in a destination. In terms of the amount spent by international travellers, the only Asian destinations in the top 10 were Hong Kong in eighth place with US$11.2 billion, up 16.6 per cent; and China, up from 10th to ninth, (displacing Switzerland), with $10.5 billion, a rise of 20.2 per cent. China's official count of 51.1 million visitors was an increase of 10.2 per cent. Of these, 42.5 million - up 9.4 per cent - were Chinese from Hong Kong and Macau. Visitors with foreign passports, including those living in Hong Kong, totalled 6.7 million, up 14.6 per cent. Despite fears that travel by Taiwanese had reached a plateau, their numbers swelled by a further 13.2 per cent to reach 1.73 million. The count of the money spent by visitors is slightly different from the tourism organisation's figure. China has its own figure of $10.2 billion, up 16.8 per cent. Of this, $9.2 billion was spent by those making overnight stays, with the rest coming from day-trippers. The China National Tourism Administration estimates there will be 53 million visitors this year, spending $11 billion. The number of Japanese visitors is expected to increase by 10 per cent. Those coming from Southeast Asia are expected to be up by between 7 and 8 per cent and visitors from Britain by 10 per cent. These figures indicate few if any extra visitors are expected because of the staging of Visit China Year this year. However, many regional administrations are gearing up to attract more visitors and travel is steadily being regarded as an increasingly important business. Developments in major tourism centres last year included: Guangdong said it received 6.9 million visitors, up 10.1 per cent, of which 1.3 million were foreign visitors, up 10.2 per cent. Provincial revenue from this was put at $2.6 billion. Hainan Island said it received 4.86 million visitors, up 34.6 per cent. About 350,000 probably were foreign visitors, spending $95 million. Hainan's southern city of Sanya had 2.45 million visitors, but only 3 per cent were from overseas and 80 per cent of those were Chinese from Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan. Income from domestic tourists was estimated at more than $840 million, with foreigners adding $85 million. Shanghai had 1.2 million foreign visitors, spending $1 billion. It had 2.5 million domestic visitors, who spent $120.5 million.