STAFF REPORTER

MADRID
RURAL tourism was what most foreign visitors in the Balearics opted for during Easter week this year, reported the National Institute of Statistics (INE) yesterday.

Figures revealed that overnight stays in apartments, camping sites and rural tourism establishments exceeded 6.4 million in April, 14 percent more than during the same month last year, principally due to the fact that Easter fell in April this year whilst last year it was scheduled in March.

According to the INE, during the first quarter of 2009, overnight stays fell by 10.2 percent in respect of the same period the previous year. It also reported that during April, the number of overnight stays went up above all due to visitors from the mainland. This particular group grew by 65.5 percent that month whilst numbers of foreign tourists fell by 8.7 percent.

There were more than 3.8 million overnight stays registered in April this year, a fall of 1.9 percent in respect of the same month last year.
Overnight stays by foreigners in apartments went to make up 74.1 percent of the total with the United Kingdom remaining the key client country - 977'020, 24.8 percent less than in April 2008. The UK was followed by Germany whose year-on-year visitor numbers for this period fell by 2.9 percent. The Canary Islands was the destination in Spain preferred by foreign visitors who wanted to stay in apartments, followed by Andalucia and Valencia. Spanish nationals were happiest staying in apartments in The Canaries, Catalonia and Andalucia.

In the camping industry, overnight stays went up by 38.3 percent in April in comparison with the same month last year to reach 1.8 million. There was a 79.2 percent growth in the number of Spanish nationals who chose to spend their holidays in this way, and a fall of 2.2 percent in the number of foreign visitors who opted to go camping.

Catalonia is the region of the country where Spanish nationals most wanted to camp and La Rioja had the highest occupation of camp sites registered in April with 59.7 percent of all plots taken. Next most popular for camping were the regions of Valencia and Madrid.

In rural tourism, overnight stays increased by 80.2 percent in April marking a year on year growth of 100.4 percent amongst Spanish nationals and 9.4 percent in foreign visitors.

Castilla y Leon was the preferred destination although the Balearics laid claim to the largest number of foreigners who wanted to stay in rural hotels.
Regarding prices, apartments increased in cost by 1.6 percent in April, by 4.2 percent at camp sites, and 0.8 percent in rural tourism.

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