SPAIN and the Balearic tourist industries rebounded last year from the economic crisis that has battered the key sector, with the number of foreign visitors to the country edging up 1.0 percent and by 1.7 percent to the Balearics, the government said yesterday.

9.2 million foreign visitors came to the Balearics last year, nearly two percent more than during 2009. according to the Ministry for Tourism, Industry and Commerce in Madrid. The figures made the Balearics the second most popular Spanish destination for foreign holiday makers after Catalonia which attracted 13.1 million visitors from overseas.

In total, Spain recorded 52.6 million international arrivals in 2010, up from 52.5 million in 2009, the tourism ministry said in a statement. It was the first increase since 2007 and follows a decline of 8.7 percent in 2009 and of 2.3 percent in 2008, when the country plunged into recession amid the collapse of its once-booming property market and the global financial meltdown.

Spain's tourism ministry noted a number of external factors had hurt the industry in 2010, including the ash cloud from the volcanic eruption in Iceland in April, a strike by air traffic controllers in Spain and bad weather in Europe and the United States in December. “The tourism sector has shown its strength in the context of the crisis that we have experienced,” the statement said.
Britain was again the largest source market for Spain, followed by Germany and France.


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