Spanish tourist industry loses ground despite worldwide boom
Spain remained the world's second-biggest tourist destination last year.30 January 2008
MADRID - Spain remained the world's second-biggest tourist destination last year, but growth in the number of visitors contracted to its slowest pace in years even as the tourism industry boomed worldwide, the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) said Tuesday.
While the number of people travelling worldwide in 2007 increased 6.2 percent to 898 million, the number of them who visited Spain rose by just 2 percent, less than half the 4.5 percent growth rate recorded in 2006.
"We can't say it was an excellent year for Spain," Francesco Frangialli, the secretary general of the OMT, admitted yesterday at the Fitur trade fair in Madrid. He put the slower pace of growth down to Spain being a "mature market."
However, other popular European destinations saw considerably larger increases in tourist numbers, suggesting that tourists are going elsewhere in search of better service and cheaper prices.
Greece and Portugal saw growth in visitor numbers in excess of 10 percent, Italy's tourism industry grew by 7 percent, while even France, currently the most visited country in the world, saw growth of 2.6 percent.
The Spanish tourism sector accounts for 12 percent of GDP.
[Copyright EL PAÍS 2008]
Subject: Spanish news