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.

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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.

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.