Madrid.—However, said the Ports Authority, in December last year, just 19'242 cruise passengers came to the Islands whilst 31'259 visited during the same month in 2010.

The Balearics, claimed the Ports Authority, is the second most popular destination for cruise passengers in the country (1.61 million in 2011) accounting for more than a fifth of all tourists in this sector.

Barcelona was the city hosting the highest level of cruising tourism in 2011, 33 percent of the national total and a 12.6 percent increase in comparison with the number of visitors to the city in 2010.

At a national level, 7.99 cruise tourists came to Spain in 2011 an increase of 11.8 percent in comparison with 2010.
Also on the rise last year, confirmed the Ports Authority yesterday, was the number of cruise ships docking in Spain. There were 3'901 dropping anchor in 2011 compared to 3'621 in 2010, a rise of 7.73 percent.

Growing popularity
Other ports which laid claim to a significant part of the tourist cruise industry in Spain last year were Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Las Palmas and Malaga. These three destinations alone accounted for 27 percent of all cruise traffic to Spain in 2011.

The Ports Authority report also highlighted the growth in the popularity of other Spanish ports as cruise tourism destinations.
These include Valencia where cruise liner visitor numbers had increased by 49.15% last year in comparison with 2010; Alicante's popularity had similarly increased, by 43.06% in comparison with the previous year; the Bahía de Cadiz, by 11.99% and La Coruña by 81.86%. The Balearics has recently widened its expectations of income from the cruise tourist industry by plans to open up the port of Alcudia to visiting ships.