Spain climbs to third spot in world tourism, France on top

Published: January 21, 2014
Spanish tourism thrives as people relax along Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona. PHOTO: REUTERS.

Spanish tourism thrives as people relax along Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona. PHOTO: REUTERS.

MADRID: Spain triumphantly announced on Tuesday that it has retaken the number three spot in world tourism in 2013, overtaking China by luring a record 60.6 million international visitors.

Foreign tourist arrivals surged by 5.6 per cent in the year, the government said, boosting the Eurozone’s fourth largest economy after a long, job-wrecking recession.

“The new figures for 2013 allow our country to retake the number three position in this indicator after having overtaken China,” Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy boasted.

Spain now stood behind only France with 83 million international tourist arrivals and second placed United States with 67 million, Rajoy said.

Income from foreign tourists hit record levels, too, a significant contribution to the Spanish economy, which has just emerged from five years of stop-start recession that left the nation with a 26 per cent unemployment rate.

Spending by international tourists in the first 11 months of 2013 surged by 8.7 per cent from the same period last year to 55.9 billion euros ($76 billion), government figures showed.

Even without the official figures for the whole year, it is already possible to say that 2013 was a record in terms of tourism spending, Rajoy said.

“The implications of these figures are clear to everyone,” Rajoy said.

The tourism industry accounted for 10.9 per cent of Spain’s total economic output in 2012, and 11.9 per cent of all jobs, the prime minister said.

British tourists led the way to Spain in 2013, with some 14.3 million of them accounting for 23.6 per cent of all foreign tourists, said the report by Spain’s Industry, Energy and Tourism Ministry.

Next came Germany with 16.2 per cent of the total, France with 15.7 per cent, and Nordic countries with eight per cent.

Russian tourists accounted for 2.6 per cent of the total, but their numbers showed the biggest leap, soaring by 31.6 per cent from the previous year.

The top destinations in Spain were Catalonia, which drew 15.5 million foreign visitors, or 25.7 per cent of the total, followed by the Balearic Islands such as Majorca with 11.1 million international arrivals, or 18.3 per cent of the total.

Spanish tourism industry association Exceltur predicts the tourism industry will grow by 1.8 per cent in 2014.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • pakistani
    Jan 21, 2014 - 10:37PM

    And where does Pakistan stand?Recommend

  • Guru
    Jan 21, 2014 - 11:37PM

    Pakistan stands at 60 tourists/year…..


  • Andy
    Jan 22, 2014 - 4:05AM

    And where does india stand? Surely the adventures it promises must lure a lot of tourists, especially ladies.


  • Tourist
    Jan 22, 2014 - 4:31AM


    And all of those 60 were Sikh Yatris from India. Also millions of Afghans visiting Pakistan do not count as foreign tourists since Afghanistan belongs to Pakistan.


  • Andykima
    Jan 22, 2014 - 4:57AM

    @ Andy
    India ranks 9th in Asia pacific region with 6.6 million international tourist.


  • Zalmai
    Jan 22, 2014 - 10:24AM

    @ Tourist

    Reclaim Waziristan before you talk about Afghanistan. You are surely smoking some wacky tabacky.


  • Tourist
    Jan 22, 2014 - 9:10PM


    Ahh I miss you bro. You went missing for a while. I knew you are there somewhere reading Pakistani news. I included Afghanistan in the comment just to instigate you. I do not want Afghanistan to be part of Pakistan. And I hope you have no claims on Pakistani territory as well. Lets call Durrand line a permanent border. Allow Pakistan erect a fence, but leave it open for controlled movement. Kinda like US/Canada border (Friendly but watched for movement of illegal people as well as goods)


  • Zalmai
    Jan 23, 2014 - 1:39AM

    @ Tourist

    Instigation is unhealthy, try empathy and compassion and maybe you will befriend your neighbors.

    Afghanistan and Pakistan have the potential to be the best of neighbors and have a mutually beneficial relationship if Pakistan decides to rid itself of its non state actors and magnificient delusions.


  • Stellar
    Jan 23, 2014 - 11:29PM

    Over a million(10,000000) tourists visited Pakistan in the year 2012-13, despite the image perception.

  • Tourist
    Jan 23, 2014 - 11:30PM


    Agree with you completely. Afghanistan and Pakistan can definitely be great neighbours. It is time to let past grievances go and have a new start. But it has to be mutual. Don’t forget Pakistan’s paranoia (in securing its western border) and interference started because of Afghan attitude.

    Afghanistan refused to accept Pakistan as a state at the time of its independence.
    Afghan national assassinated first Prime Minister of Pakistan 4 years into its existence.
    Afghan incursion in Pakistan (Bajaur agency) in 1961,
    Afghan government fuelled Pashtoonistan Issue in the past and is helping Baluch militants in today’s date.

    So starting in 70s when Pakistan started gaining military strength and got many times more powerful in military strength than Afghanistan, it wanted to make sure its western border is secure and there are no more interference. (Soviet invasion did not help in that either).

    So Once again it has to be mutual , Pakistan should stop supporting its proxies in Afghanistan and Afghanistan should stop supporting its asset in Pakistan. Both countries should also remove facilities established to cause destabilization in each others territory. (Both sides have quite a few dedicated to that role).

    And on top of all FORGIVENESS and RECONCILIATION. Pakistan should forgive Afghanistan for its role towards Pakistan’s destabilization in its first half of Pakistan’s existence. And Afghanistan should forgive Pakistan for its role in Afghanistan in second half of Pakistan’s existence. Recommend

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