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Spain beats USA as second-most visited tourist destination on earth: 82 million visitors in 2017
SPAIN has beaten the USA as the world's second-most visited tourism destination, with a record of 82 million visitors – nearly double the resident population – in 2017.
President Mariano Rajoy announced this week that although 2016 saw the highest holidaymaker numbers in Spain in history, the year 2017 has clearly surpassed this with a 9% rise in foreign visitors.
Until now, Spain has been the third-most popular holiday destination on earth after France and the USA, but the USA has now dropped to third, leaving Spain only beaten by its northern neighbour, overtaking its rival across the pond for the first time ever.
Catalunya continues to be the most-visited region, welcoming 18.2 million tourists last year, but as an already mature destination, its growth has slowed.
Meanwhile, other internationally-famous regions such as Madrid, the Balearic Islands, the Canaries and Andalucía are growing faster than ever.
Behind Catalunya, the Balearics is the region which saw the most foreign holidaymakers last year – 13.7 million – just ahead of the Canary Islands with 13 million.
Andalucía welcomed 11 million tourists from abroad; the Valencia region, 8.5 million and Madrid, 6.2 million.
Other regions with more than one million foreign tourists were the Basque Country, Castilla y León and Galicia in that order, with Murcia just behind at 931,000.
Other than the Spanish-owned city-provinces of Ceuta and Melilla on the northern Moroccan coast, visited by just 8,400 in 2017, the region with the lowest numbers of international visitors was La Rioja, with 112,700, followed by Castilla-La Mancha (214,000) and Asturias (281,000).
In descending order, regions with between 300,000 and 520,000 tourists from abroad in 2017 were Aragón, Cantabria, Extremadura and Navarra.
The average tourist who visited Spain in 2017 spent €1,061, including accommodation – an increase of 3.1% on the previous year's figures, and the average daily spend was €137, a rise of 4.4%.
These data were unveiled during the recent Southern European Summit which Rajoy attended in Rome, where he spoke of Spain's ever-strengthening economic recovery.
He said the tourism industry in Spain – which brought €87 billion into the country last year, up 12% on 2016 - had been working hard to become as competitive as possible.
Based upon 2017 data, Spain now earns more money from tourism than any other country in the world except France.
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