Spain beats out USA as second most visited world country

Published:  18 Jan at 6 PM
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Tagged: France, Spain, USA, Germany, Money, Euro
Spain’s popularity as a destination both for tourism and expat life looks set to continue.

Always a popular destination for both holidaymakers and expats, Spain is now officially the world’s second most visited country, beaten only by France and overtaking the USA. During 2017, an astonishing 82 million visitors arrived in the country, a further increase on the 2016 record high figure. The total amount of money spent by foreign visitors also soared by just under five per cent, bringing its share of gross domestic product to 11.5 per cent.

It seems Spain is set to continue beating its own records, although visits by British tourists fell by eight per cent last year and there’s no way of estimating whether the flow may diminish further once freedom of movement across the EU is no longer available post-Brexit. The increase in the total number of visitors will have been good news for expat Brit businesses in the Mediterranean tourism hubs but, again, there’s no way to predict whether local expat entrepreneurs will be allowed to stay open after March 2019.

According to Spain’s tourism authority, the increase in visitor numbers was mostly due to increased interest in the Americas, with Argentineans up by 74 per cent and tourists from the USA up by 18 per cent. The French contribution to tourist numbers fell by almost 20 per cent, Asian visitor numbers declined, and German tourist numbers fell by 14 per cent.

Politics didn’t seem to affect the totals, although the Catalan crisis has knocked off some €319 million from the country’s GDP. Growth estimates for the 2018 tourism sector are expected at just under three per cent should the Catalan crisis not be resolved.
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