TOURISM

Spain displaces China as third most popular tourist destination in world

Industry, Energy and Tourism Ministry figures confirm that over 60 million foreign visitors flocked to Spanish shores last year

Spain last year ousted China as the third most popular holiday destination in the world after France and the United States, with more than 60 million foreign visitors opting to enjoy their vacations there.

According to the Industry, Energy and Tourism Ministry’s Frontur survey, which was released Tuesday, the number of overseas arrivals last year climbed 5.6 percent from a year earlier to 60.661 million, slightly more than the increase on a global level, which was 5.0 percent. In December alone, the number of foreign tourists climbed 16.3 percent to 3.1 million, with Spain benefiting from unrest in rival destinations in the eastern Mediterranean such as Egypt. There were consecutive record monthly number of visitors to Spain in the period May-October.

Britain remained Spain’s most important market, accounting for 23.6 percent of total visitors, followed by Germany with 16.2 percent, and France with 15.7 percent. The number of British arrivals climbed 5.2 percent from a year earlier, while those from Germany climbed 5.8 percent, and those from France by 6.9 percent.

The biggest rise was in the number of Russian visitors, with their ranks boosted by 31.6 percent to 1.6 million.

The Frontur survey showed increasing numbers of overseas visitors opting out of package holidays. Some 42.4 million, or 69.9 percent of total visitors, decided to make their own arrangements, an increase of 6.8 percent over 2012.

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