Spain's key tourism sector hit by rising unemployment

8th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Unemployment in Spain's struggling tourism industry, a key sector of the country's battered economy, edged higher last year, the government said Tuesday.

Joblessness in the sector rose to 15.7 percent in 2010 from 14.5 percent the previous year, the industry ministry said.

That is about seven percentage points above the level in the service sector in general but less than Spain's overall unemployment rate for 2010 of more than 20 percent.

In the fourth quarter, tourism accounted for 10 percent of Spain's gross domestic product, employing 2.1 million people -- 1.8 percent less than a year earlier and 11.3 percent of the working-age population in all.

The tourism ministry said last month that international tourist arrivals grew 1.0 percent last year.

The UN World Tourism Organisation reported earlier that Spain slipped from third to fourth place among the world's most visited countries in 2010, behind France, the United States and China.

The Spanish economy, the European Union's fifth biggest, slumped into recession during the second half of 2008 as the global financial meltdown compounded the collapse of a labour-intensive construction boom.

It emerged with tepid growth of just 0.1 percent in the first quarter of 2010 and 0.2 percent in the second but then stalled with zero growth in the third.

The downturn sent the jobless rate soaring to 20.33 percent in 2010 -- the highest level in the industrialised world and well above Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's target of 19.4 percent.

Zapatero has said the fourth quarter will show positive growth which would pick up steam in 2011 but he warned that job creation would be "far from what we need and desire."

© 2011 AFP

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