Great Britain has gained a place in the world rankings of most popular tourist destination leap-frogging France into third place, according to a new report.

Moving up behind the USA and Germany in the league of most admired nations, Scotland’s tourism boss claimed the country had “played its part” in Britain’s overall success.

The global survey interviewed more than 20,000 adults and asked to rate countries in categories from culture and economy to politics and the people. Britain also ranked fourth for contemporary culture such as films, music, literature and sports, resulting in a climb of two spots from last year.

Overall, participants in the survey said that Britain had particular appeal due to its historic landmarks and vibrant city life.

VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe said the findings showed that the “overwhelming perception of Britain by overseas visitors is positive” and “improving significantly” across the world.

As Scotland prepares to host the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games in 2014, Malcolm Roughhead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “This survey shows that the United Kingdom – and Scotland with it – has again proved on the world stage that it is an extremely desirable place to visit.

“The abundance of heritage, culture and world famous hospitality as well as the upcoming momentous sporting events such as the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup in 2014, represents a truly golden opportunity for the country to prosper in the years ahead.”

The survey was carried out by Anholt-GFK Roper Nation Brands Index (NBI)