THE Balearic Islands proved to be the most popular holiday destination in Spain last month attracting 1.3 million visitors, 26 percent of the national total but even so, the figure was 7 percent down on the same month in 2008.

The figures emerged in a report published by the Institute for Tourist Studies and released yesterday by the Ministry for Tourism. It revealed that the Balearics was also more successful in the industry in June than the rest of the country where visitor numbers - 5.2 million - were down 10 percent on last year.

The cumulative figure for the number of tourists coming to the Balearics during the first half of this year reached 3'737'186, a downturn of 8 percent in comparison with the same period in 2008. Again, the Balearics is not suffering the decline in business being experienced by the rest of the country where in numerical terms 23.5 million visitors represented 11.4 percent less in comparison with figures for the first six months of 2008.

Analysed by client markets, the Germans were the foreign visitors coming in most numbers to the Balearics during last month, although in comparison with June last year there were 38'000 less.

In the case of the United Kingdom, the next largest client group, the two main choices of location for Britons coming to Spain in June this year, were the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands. Both regions were affected by the decline in British tourism with 52'000 and 47'000 less visitors than during June 2008, respectively.

Despite the downturn, the Ministry for Tourism led by Miguel Sebastian reported that the tourist industry in Balearic Islands and Catalonia accounted for more than half the number of foreign visitors coming to Spain this June.

At a general level and as in previous months, 68 percent of the volume of visitors arriving in Spain in June came under their own steam as opposed to through a package holiday arrangement. But it was the numbers of these independent travellers which declined the most that month, by 12.8 percent in comparison with June last year. Figures for those arriving with tour operator driven package holidays however, only dropped by 1.1 percent compared to last year.

Looking at the transport people chose to use to visit Spain in June, the report showed that 79 percent of arrivals were by air but tourist numbers flying in were down by 430'000 in comparison with the same month last year.

There was also an important decline in figures for people electing to come on holiday by car - 142'000 less than those who drove to Spain as visitors during June in 2008.