Spain beats US to second most preferred tourist destination spot

 Saturday, January 12, 2019 

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Last year Spain overtook the United States and became the world’s second most visited country after France, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said while on a visit to Italy.

 

Speaking late on Wednesday, Rajoy said 82 million people visited Spain in 2017, a nine per cent increase over the previous year that came despite terror attacks and the political crisis in tourism magnet Catalonia.

 

Tourism earnings rose 12 per cent, totaling 87 billion euros ($104 billion), he said in Rome on the sidelines of a southern European summit on migration.

 

In 2016, Spain welcomed 75.3 million visitors, just behind the United States with 75.6 million, while France — despite its own terror woes — easily remained the world leader with 82.6 million visitors, according to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

 

According to the US International Trade Administration, international tourism to the United States shrank during the first five months of Donald Trump’s presidency.

 

Arrivals fell five per cent in the first quarter and three percent in the second quarter, official figures show.

 

Rajoy praised the Spanish tourism sector’s “great effort” to become more competitive.

 

Arrivals in Spain beat records for the fifth consecutive year, despite jihadist attacks in the Catalonia capital Barcelona and nearby Cambrils last August that left 16 dead.

 

The Madrid-based UNWTO is set to release its figures for 2017 on Monday.

 

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