Palma.—Yesterday, the Ministry for Tourism in Madrid releases the tourism figures for the first seven months of the year and the Balearics has been the second most popular destination after Catalonia.

Last month alone, the Balearics was visited by nearly 2.3 million foreign holiday makers, 1.7 percent more than July last year and during the first six months of the year, a total of 6.2 million tourists chose the Balearics for a holiday, 7.5 percent more than last year.

The strongest markets in the Balearics are the British and German followed by the Scandinavian and the Russian which, although the two latter markets posted health growth, remain relatively small in comparison to the British and German markets.

For example, the Scandinavian market to Spain in general has grown by 18 percent so far this year with 2.9 million tourists while the Russian market has increased by 30.6 percent nationwide but despite that rise, only 838'976 Russians visited the country during the first seven months of the year, not many more than the 782'166 tourists from the United States.

The Italian market, however, posted a down turn as did the domestic market which has been on the down turn ever since the recession hit at the end of 2007.

For many mainlanders, they find the Balearics too expensive and can avoid having to catch flights by remaining on the mainland or heading to cheaper overseas destinations.

At a national level, Spain has apparently hit a new high with a total of 34 million tourists visiting the country during the first seven months of the year, 3.9 percent more than during the same period last year.

The eight million Britons represents an increase of 4.3 percent in comparison to last year.
5.4 million Germans have visited the country since the start of the year, 2.5 percent more than last year followed by 5.1 million French, a year-on-year increase of 5.2 percent.

But, Catalonia was the top destination last month with 8.8 million visitors and in third place, behind the Balearics, was the Canary Islands with 5.8 million, Andalusia with 4.4 million and finally Valencia with 3.3 million.

No official explanation was given for the increase but it came in a period when rival markets in Egypt and Turkey faced political unrest which some tourism experts claim will help to boost bookings in September and October with countries like Germany having banned people from going on holiday to Egypt.

Domestic and international tourism accounts for about 11 percent of the Spanish economy, the fourth largest in the euro zone.
The tourism boost will be welcome news for an economy that has been shrinking for two years with official data showing the unemployment rate hit 26.26 percent in the second quarter of this year.