STAFF REPORTER

PALMA/MADRID
WHILST the rest of Spain was lamenting a 10.1 percent decrease in the number of tourists arriving last month in comparison with January 2007, the Balearics were celebrating as the region of the country which laid claim to the largest upturn in visitors for January this year (5.9%).

The results of an enquiry conducted by a tourist movement watchdog, FRONTUR, published yesterday, showed that the Balearics hosted a total of 153'000 tourists last month, 6 percent of the national total. The Tourist Study Institute (IET) said at the same time that visitors from Germany represented more than 66 percent of numbers coming to the Balearics and to a large extent were responsible for the growth in visitor numbers in January. In terms of absolute numbers, as opposed to percentage increases, the first choice holiday destination in Spain in January was the Canary Islands which registered 782'000 visitors, 7.5 percent less than the previous year by 30.5 percent of the total. The Islands were followed by Catalonia with a total of 571'000, 8.4 percent less than last year, but 22.3 percent of the total.

The largest downturn in visitor numbers was experienced by Valencia where the 209'909 tourists who came in January represented a decline of 24.7 percent on figures of the previous year. The opposite case was true for the Balearics and Madrid which reported growth of 5.9 and 2.6 percent respectively.

Looking at the number of visitors coming to Spain in January, the client country providing the highest number was the United Kingdom (575'037), 22.5 percent of the total of 2.6 million, with Germany positioned in second place with 442'080 tourists, 17.3 percent of the total. An important downturn in tourists in January was registered in the Italian community with 19.6 percent less visiting Spain last month than in January 2008. United States visitors were also down, by 15.3 percent.

Hotel occupancy in January ran at 1.6 million tourists, 65.5 percent of the total but 12.5 percent less than for the same month in 2008. Tourists opting for package holidays in January numbered 848'244, a downturn of 7.2 percent.