Tourists queuing at the airport in Minorca.

It had previously been reported that the number of foreign tourists who came to Spain in 2018 was a new record, and the exact number is now known: 82.8 million, according to the Frontur survey of foreign tourist movement. This was an increase of 1.1% over 2017 and meant that 2018 was the sixth consecutive year in which the record was broken.

The UK provided 18.5 million tourists, more than any other market. This represented a drop of 1.6%, a lower decrease than for the German market, which was down 4.1% to 11.4 million. French visitors increased slightly - up 0.7% to 11.3 million. Notable increases were registered by the US market, a rise of 12% to three million, by the Portuguese (up 9.8%) and the Russians with 6.3% more.

Catalonia attracted the most tourists. The 19.1 million was more or less the same number as in 2017 and equated to 23.1% of all Spain's tourists. The Balearics ranked second with 13.8 million, a rise of 0.5%, with the German market providing 33.7% and the UK 26.7%. The Canaries experienced a 3.3% decrease to 13.7 million.

In December alone, the Canaries led the way with almost 29% of all tourists. In the Balearics there was an 84.8% increase in December foreign tourism. The 183,467 tourists represented 4.2% of the national total.The figure for the whole of Spain was 4.4 million tourists, which was up 9.7%.

Average tourist spending last year was 1,086 euros, an increase of 2.2%, while the average length of stay (7.4 days) was down slightly. Balearic foreign tourist spending for the year amounted to 14,826 million euros, an increase of 1.6%

Tourism secretary of state Bel Oliver said yesterday that the results were "excellent" and confirmed Spain's position as a tourism leader. In 2019, she added, "we will continue to work to increase the profitability of tourism and maintain the country's competitiveness".