STAFF REPORTER

LONDON
HOPES are high for the recovery of the British tourist market in Spain, the national government's Secretary of State for Tourism, Joan Mesquida, said in London yesterday.

The United Kingdom is the country's most important client market so it was of considerable significance that reports confirmed that a 15 percent fall in British visitors registered at the beginning of this year has now been whittled down to a decline of just 6 percent.

Mesquida was in London yesterday for the opening of the annual World Travel Market which will run until Thursday this week. He said that Spain clearly remains the favourite holiday destination for the British and pointed to the surge in the number of visitors over the last few months.

He highlighted the fact that the upturn in Britons holidaying in Spain in July broke with what had been up until that time a negative trend which had started its downward spiral in May 2008.

Mesquida furthered that between January and September this year, the average spend by British tourists during their holiday in Spain had risen by 1 percent to 829 euros, whilst the daily spend per person had grown by 5.9 percent. “This means that although it may still be the case that fewer people are coming, those that do choose to holiday in Spain are spending more,” claimed Mesquida, adding that British clientele go to make up 22 percent of the entire Spanish tourist market. He said that 13 million Britons had visited Spain last year, much higher than the 9 million who had chosen to go to France.

Mesquida said that looking only at the package tour industry, 30 percent of Spain's market comes from the United Kingdom, double the amount claimed by Turkey which is the second favourite holiday destination for the British. “People from the United Kingdom place a high value on what Spain has to offer them in terms of a holiday,” the Secretary for State said.
He furthered that it was not just a question of the clients appreciating the wide range of activities which were available to them, but also that they were satisfied that the country was safe for families, that the transport infrastructure was sound, that airports coped adequately with large numbers of visitors and that Spain's health service is second to none.

Looking at up-to-the-minute bookings, continued Mesquida, Spain is the country which has the highest number of holiday reservations made for the 2010-2011 winter season.

The Secretary of State took the opportunity yesterday to meet with senior representativs of the British tourist industry and outline Spanish hopes for a full recovery in the UK market.

He acknowledged though that there were still some factors which generated uncertainty such as the rate of recovery of the British economy, and the effect of spending cuts announced by the British government.

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