THE Balearics was visited by more than 9.6 million foreign tourists in 2005, one percent more than the year before, thanks to a 6.9 increase in German tourism which compensated for the fall of 4.2 percent and 2.4 percent in British and Italian visitors respectively. This is according to figures released yesterday by the central Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce. The Secretary of State for Tourism, Pedro Mejia, said that the Balearics had in 2005 recuperated their normal flow of international visitors, although the figures have not reached the levels achieved at the end of the 1990s. The Balearics was second only to Catalonia as the place most visited by foreign tourists which is 17.3 percent of the national total.
Catalonia, on the other hand, had more than 14 million foreign visitors last year, 12.3 percent more than the year before and 25.3 percent of the national total. In December, the number of foreign visitors to the Balearics dropped by 1.7 percent compared with the same month the year before, with 143'000 visitors, which represented 4.5 percent of the national total. This made the Balearics the sixth most visited place that month. The two principal countries of origin for tourists are Germany (origin of 58 percent of tourists arriving per month), and the United Kingdom. In December the number of visitors from both countries rose by 12.9 and 5.3 percent respectively. In all, Spain received 55.6 million foreign tourists last year, which represents an increase of 6 percent in comparison with 2004 and sets a new historical record for Spain's tourist sector, according to Mejia who said that 2005 was a “very good tourist year” for the country. The improvement of 6 percent in foreign tourists during the past year is the highest annual rise since 1999.

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