Spanish tourist arrivals post fifth monthly increase

The number of foreign tourists arriving in Spain rose in September for the fifth straight month on a year-on-year basis, buoyed by double-digit growth in the number of German visitors, government data showed Friday.

The country received 5.2 million foreign tourists last month, a 4.2 percent increase over the same time in 2009 with Britain and Germany accounting for nearly half of all visitors, the tourism ministry said in a statement.

But while the number of arrivals from Britain fell by 0.3 percent to 1.46 million, the number of visitors from Germany, whose economy has bounced back impressively from recession, rose by 11.4 percent to 1.03 million.

Tourist arrivals from France, Italy, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries were also up in September.

During the first nine months of the year the number of tourist arrivals hit 42.4 million, an 0.8 percent increase over the same time last year.

Tourism, which accounts for around 10 percent of Spain's economy, has taken a battering in the global economic downturn and the emergence of cheaper sunshine destinations in the eastern Mediterranean such as Turkey and Egypt.

The country received 52.5 million visitors in 2009, an 8.7 percent decline over the previous year when Spain lost its ranking as the world's second most visited country to the United States.

In 2008 the number of visitors to Spain fell by 2.3 percent over the previous year, its first reversal in tourist arrivals in more than a decade.