Spain breaks new tourist record with 54.4m foreign visits up to September

Figure for first nine months of 2015 represents 3.8% rise on last year

Tourists enjoying the beach at Alcudia, Mallorca.
Tourists enjoying the beach at Alcudia, Mallorca.Cristobal Castro

Spain has broken yet another tourism record after receiving 54.4 million international visitors up until September of this year, according to a new survey released by the Industry, Energy and Tourism Ministry.

The new figure is 3.8% higher than calculations taken at the end of September 2014 for the same nine-month period.

Last month, Spain broke its all-time record for the number of foreign tourist arrivals up to August when it registered 47.2 million visits – a 4.1% rise from the first eight months of 2014.

Madrid showed the biggest improvement with an 11% increase in visitors

The latest figures from the ministry’s Tourism Border Movements Survey (Frontur) show that once again most visitors came from Britain, Germany and France – which together make up more than half of all tourists entering the country.

In all, Spain received two million more tourists than in 2014 over the same nine-month period, Frontur said.

The Madrid region showed the biggest improvement in the survey with an 11% increase in visitors.

Catalonia remains the preferred destination of most foreign tourists with almost 14 million arrivals – 3.2% more than last year.

The Balearics ranks second with more than 10 million foreigners landing on the islands – a 2.5% rise from 2014.

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While the latter is a prime destination for Britons, Catalonia has experienced a particular increase in the number of French visitors, with 5.2% more entering compared with last year. The region's proximity to France and the amount of good vacation deals were the key factors for the rise, said Frontur.

There were also increases in the numbers of tourists coming from Asia (33.4%), the United States (23.1%), Switzerland (8.6%) and other European nations (8.7%).

But while Germany ranked second in the survey, the number of German tourists decreased 3.4% compared to the same period last year.

As Frontur reported last month, the number of Russians visiting Spain continued to fall –  dropping 36% compared with the January-September 2014 period as a result of the global fall in oil and gas prices, upon which a large part of Russia’s economy depends.

The number of visitors from Portugal also dropped 2% compared with last year.

The number of international motorists arriving in Spain rose by 4.3%

While the number of international motorists arriving rose by 4.3% – representing 10 million arrivals – air travel was the most common form of reaching Spain. Frontur said that eight out of 10 people arrived in the country by plane.

As for accommodation, six out of 10 international tourists stayed in hotels, though an increased number of visitors opted for other types of places to spend their vacations, especially rental properties.

Once again the majority of visitors to Spain – 71% – preferred to organize their trips online themselves rather then purchase package deals.

English version by Martin Delfín.

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