Madrid – Spain welcomed 6 million international tourists in September, an increase of 9.2 percent over the same month last year, the government said Monday.
Industry, Tourism and Trade Minister Miguel Sebastian told a press conference that similarly positive results have been recorded since June 1 with an accumulated 20.9 million arrivals, 8.5 percent more than in the same period of 2010.
The 2011 summer season was the third best in the entire history of Spanish tourism. "We're seeing historic growth," Sebastian said.
In the first nine months of the year, Spain received 45.8 million visitors, an increase of 8 percent over the same period last year, figures that point to a projected 57 million tourists by the end of 2011, some 4 million more than in 2010.
This year's growth is not only due to the unsettled situation in North African countries that compete in the area of Mediterranean tourism, Sebastian said, but also because "things have been done well here" and the country is offering "something more" than sea, sun and sand.
The minister also said that promotional campaigns rolled out in target countries plus the economic recovery of nations that supply the largest number of visitors to Spain, especially Britain and Germany, and the improved granting of visas in Russia, have contributed to this growth.
Britain and Germany have consolidated their position, both in September and in the accumulated number of visitors this year, as the countries from which the greatest number of tourists come to Spain, followed by France and the Netherlands.
The Spanish regions most visited by foreign tourists were the Balearic Islands with 1.4 million in September and 9 million for the year to date, Catalonia with 1.3 million in the month and 11.2 million in the first nine months of the year, and the Canary Islands with 749,000 tourists last month and 7.3 million so far this year.