Spanish tourist industry hit hard by volcanic ash

21st May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Tourist arrivals in Spain plunged more than 13 percent in April due largely to the closure of European airspace because of the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland, the government said Friday.

The British market, Spain's largest single source of foreign tourists, was particularly badly affected, with 27.7 percent less Britons visiting the country than a year ago, the industry ministry said.

Overall, 3.9 million foreign tourists visited Spain in April, down 13.3 percent from the same month in 2009.

"This result was strongly influenced by the cloud of volcanic ash that entered European air space and the flight cancellations that followed," the ministry said in a statement.

The eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjoell volcano on April 14 led to massive flight disruption throughout Europe for several days.

The industry ministry said that during the first four months of the year, tourist arrivals in Spain have slumped 4.3 percent to 12.7 million.

Spain is the world's third largest tourist destination after France and the United States, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation.

The sector accounts for some 10 percent of the gross domestic product of the country, which has only just emerged from more than a year of recession.

© 2010 AFP

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