Spain reports record summer tourism season
Spain drew a record number of foreign visitors between June and September, the peak summer holiday period, the government said Wednesday, setting the country up for its best-ever year for tourism.
The number of foreign tourists during the four-month period rose 6.9 percent over last year to an unprecedented 31 million, the tourism ministry said in a statement.
A recovery in Britain and Germany -- where roughly half of all visitors to Spain traditionally come from -- has fuelled the tourism boom, which has also been helped by holidaymakers shunning traditional competitors such as Egypt and Turkey because of political turmoil.
Overall visitor numbers during the first nine months of 2014 hit 52.4 million, a 7.4 percent increase over the same time last year.
Spain lured a record 60.6 million international visitors last year the government predicts this figure will be surpassed in 2014.
British tourists led the charge with 12.4 million visitors, followed by the French with 8.6 million visitors and Germans with 8.3 million.
The most popular destinations were the northeastern region of Catalonia, the Balearic islands and the southern region of Andalusia, which are famous for their beaches.
Spain is the world's most popular tourism destination after the United States and France, according to United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
Tourism is crucial to the slowly recovering yet jobs-scarce Spanish economy, accounting for about 11 percent of all economic activity.
Spain has shown a gradual economic pick-up since emerging from recession in mid-2013 but still suffers from a 24-percent unemployment rate, one of the highest in the industrialised world.
© 2014 AFP