Tourist arrivals plunge in Spain

24th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Tourist arrivals in Spain drop more than 10 percent in January, according to the tourism ministry.

MADRID – Tourist arrivals in Spain plunged more than 10 percent in January, due partly to a sharp drop in the number of Britons visiting the world's second-biggest holiday destination, the government said Monday.

A total of 2.6 million foreign tourists visited Spain in January, down 10.1 percent over the same month in 2008, the tourism ministry said.

It said Britain again provided the largest number of visitors, 575,037. But the figure was down 20.5 percent from the same month in 2008.

The weakening of the pound to near-parity with the euro has led many Britons to shun Spain's beaches and bars in favour of sunshine destinations outside of the eurozone such as Turkey and Egypt, which have become much cheaper.

Britain was followed by Germany, which provided 442,080 visitors, down 7.0 percent, and France, with 296,000 tourists, off 7.6 percent.

The regions worst hit were around the eastern city of Valencia and in southern Andalucia.

The most visited region was the Canary Islands, noted for its warm winter weather, where the number of tourists was down 7.5 percent at 782,223.

Spain reported a record 59.2 million visitors in 2007, before the global economic crisis. But this dropped to 2.6 percent to 57.41 million in 2008.

Spain is the world's second biggest tourist destination after France. The tourism sector accounts for about 11 percent of the country's jobs and gross domestic product.

The country has recently been trying to promote more upmarket tourism, even though the country is known largely as a destination for budget package tours.

AFP / Expatica

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