Aug 152014

This picture taken on February 14, 2013 shows tourists on Patong beach in Phuket, southern Thailand. AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI

BANGKOK – Experiencing a dramatic surge in tourism, Thailand has surpassed the United States in the number of hotels truly set on its beaches, according to a survey of more than 11,000 hotels in 109 countries released Friday.

The Southeast Asian country ranked first with more than 1,250 beachfront properties, followed by the United States with 1,016 and Mexico with 943. Spain, with 736, was fourth, trailed by the Philippines, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and Sri Lanka, said the survey by the Beachfront Club, a website that maps and details seaside hotels around the world.

The Bangkok-based website defines true beachfront hotels as those directly on the beach or oceanfront with no road or traffic between the rooms and the water.

Thailand also ranked first for total beachfront accommodations within a single beach destination. Its Samui Island has 270, ahead of Riviera Maya in Mexico with 250, Crete with 194 and Mallorca with 187.

Despite recent political violence, tourist arrivals in Thailand have soared by 88 percent over the past five years to nearly 27 million in 2013, ranking it among the top 10 most visited countries in the world. Its shores face both the Pacific and Indian oceans with hundreds of islands in each.

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