Tourist arrivals fall 11.4 percent in Spain in 2009
Only 23.6 million foreign tourists visited Spain during the first six months of 2009.Madrid – The number of foreign tourists who visited Spain fell 11.4 percent during the first half of 2009 over the same time last year to 23.6 million, government figures published Wednesday showed.
The number of British tourists, who account for one-quarter of all visitors to Spain, dropped 16.6 percent during the period while the number of German tourists, who represent 18 percent of all visitors, fell 11 percent.
The government has forecast a 10-percent fall in tourist arrivals this summer as the recession causes sunseekers from key northern European markets to shun Spain's beaches, resorts and historic towns.
The decline in the value of the British pound to near parity with the euro, the emergence of cheaper sunshine destinations in other Mediterranean countries like Turkey and Tunisia and the declining popularity of package beach holidays are other factors blamed for the decline.
Spain received 57.4 million visitors last year, a 2.6 percent drop from 2007 and the first fall since the current record-keeping system was introduced in 1995.
The country lost its spot as the second-most visited country in the world to the United States last year, according to the United Nations' World Tourism Organisation. France remained the world's most popular holiday destination.
The tourism sector accounts for about 11 percent of Spain's jobs and gross domestic product.
AFP / Expatica