Spanish tourist arrivals post seventh monthly increase

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The number of foreign visitors to Spain rose in November for the seventh straight month despite a drop in tourists from its main market Britain, government data showed Wednesday.

The country welcomed 2.9 million foreign tourists last month, a 2.7 percent increase over the same time last year, bringing total arrivals in the first 11 months of 2010 to 50.1 million, up 1.3 percent, the tourism ministry said.

"All the main source markets of tourists to Spain posted rises in the number of tourists, with the exception of Britain," it said in a statement.

The number of arrivals from Britain fell 6.1 percent in November over the same month last year to 590,192.

But this was offset by a slight rise in arrivals from Germany, the second most important source of tourists to Spain, and sharp rises in arrivals from France, Italy and Scandinavian countries.

Tourist arrivals from Germany were up 0.1 percent to 445,905 while arrivals from France soared 10.3 percent to 429,794 and arrivals from Italy jumped 30.9 percent to 240,941.

Arrivals from Scandinavia soared 15.1 percent in November to 312,814.

Tourism, which accounts for around 10 percent of Spain's economy, has taken a battering due to the emergence of cheaper sunshine destinations in the eastern Mediterranean such as Turkey and Egypt and the drop in the value of the British pound.

The country got 52.5 million visitors in 2009, down 8.7 percent from 2008 when Spain lost its ranking as the world's second most visited country to the United States.

Earlier this month the UN World Tourism Organisation said China may overcome Spain as the world's third most visited country this year after France and the United States.

In 2008, the number of visitors to Spain fell 2.3 percent, the first reversal in tourist arrivals in more than a decade.

© 2010 AFP

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