Spanish tourist arrivals post sixth monthly increase

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The number of foreign visitors to Spain rose in October for the sixth straight month despite a drop in tourists from Britain and Germany, its two main markets, government data showed Monday.

The country welcome 4.8 million foreign tourists last month, a 4.2 percent increase over the same time last year, bringing total arrivals in the first 10 months of 2010 to 47.2 million, up 1.2 percent, the tourism ministry said.

While the number of arrivals from Britain and Germany dropped 2.2 percent and 1.6 percent respectively in October, this was offset by double-digit growth in visitors from Scandinavia, Italy and the Netherlands.

Tourist arrivals from Scandinavia soared 28.3 percent in October, Italy was up 23.5 percent and the Netherlands 33.6 percent, the ministry said.

"In total, these countries provided some 900,000 tourists, which is equal to the number of Germans who visited us during the month of October," it said.

Spain, the world's third most popular tourist destination last year after France and the United States, has sought to move away from its dependence on sunseekers from Britain and Germany, who accounted for just under 41 percent of all visitors to the country during the first 10 months of the year

Tourism, which accounts for around 10 percent of Spain's economy, has taken a battering in the global downturn and the emergence of cheaper sunshine destinations in the eastern Mediterranean such as Turkey and Egypt.

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.

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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