Despite the economic crisis in the country, Spain received a record 28 million foreign visitors in the first half of 2014. According to the Spanish government, German and British tourists lead this number.
Caption: Fuengirola has beautiful long sandy beaches, a popular holiday destination on the Costa del Sol
Spain’s tourism ministry reports the number of visitors went over the figures recorded for the same time last year by an impressive 7.3 percent, setting a new record for tourist arrivals in the country. Reportedly in March alone, a huge 3.9 million tourists visited Spain, an increase on the figure for the same time last year.
Since the property boom collapsed in 2008 at the beginning of the economic crisis in Spain, leaving a quarter of the population without employment, tourism has become the main pillar of the country’s economy. Certain other destinations became popular with European tourists, taking some of Spain’s tourism away.
However, with unrest and demonstrations ongoing in other popular destinations like Egypt and Turkey, people have begun changing their minds and are turning back to Spain, making the country the third-most visited in the world. Of the crowds heading to Spain, British tourists made up the highest number at 6.5 million, which is an increase of 5.8 percent from the same time in 2013. German visitors were up 8.8 percent, with 4.7 million visiting various destinations in Spain and French tourists increased by 10.3 percent, coming in at a figure of 4.2 million visitors.
Looking at the most popular areas of Spain, the Canary Islands, off the northwest coast of Africa, along with Catalonia, on the border with France and Andorra and the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, continued to be the most popular with tourists.
According to the tourism board, one drawback to attracting tourists in Spain is seasonality, however, and while the Canary Islands maintain a reasonable climate year round, some regions, for example the Costa del Sol in Andalusia who rely on beach tourism, suffer a lack of tourists during the winter season. On the other hand, fascinating and often monumental locations, like the country’s capital, Madrid, Barcelona in Catalonia, and Seville, Cordoba and Granada in Andalusia, do attract year round tourists.
Another aspect of the increase in tourism is the number of attractive holiday villas and apartments available to foreign visitors, making them a little more independent and saving some of the money which would normally be spent on hotel accommodation.
It is of interest to note that Spain was once again at the number three spot in world tourism popularity in 2013, taking that position from China, after receiving a gratifying 60.6 million international tourists. The two countries listed ahead of Spain were France, holding a record 83 million visitors, and the United States who received 67 million.