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August highs

September 26, 2011 – 1:43 pm

Doom and gloom, that’s all the papers here in Spain seem to show these days. Unemployment, businesses folding, debt. So how nice to read something really positive.

Last week, tourist figures for August were released. They showed that the number of tourists visiting Spain last month hit an all-time high: 7.64 million, beating the previous record of 7.63 million for July 2007.

This figure is up 9.4% on August 2010, or 665,000 tourists. How many hotel rooms, restaurant covers, taxi rides is that? How many people have been kept in employment, how many small businesses have been carried on going?

Interestingly, the biggest rise is in visitors from the US, who increased by 16.7% (15.7% since the start of the year). I reckon most of these were in cities – the museums, galleries and cultural attractions of Spain’s major cities are second to none. But it is Spain’s indomitable spirit which draws most visitors – romantic Arabic architecture, passionate flamenco, fino and tapas on a hot summer’s night. In the face of it all, the locals are still out enjoying themselves.

However, as always, the biggest market for August was the British, with 23.7% of the total, or 1.8 million tourists. That number was up 7.7% on last year, and 8.8% for the year to date, with five consecutive months of growth for the UK market. The other strongest countries for visitor numbers to Spain last month were France (19.7% of all visiting tourists) and Germany (14.1%).

Of these visitors to Spain in August, 14.3% came here to Andalucia, which represents one million. This was up 5% on 2010; the region was especially popular with Brits, French and Italians.

More people are choosing to stay in apartments, an increasingly economical option compared to hotels, with non-hotel accommodation up by 13.3%, the highest growth in the accommodation sector.

If you’re a hotel or guest house owner, you have your own cafe, bar or restaurant, tourist-oriented web-based business, or your livelihood depends in any other way on those who come to Andalucia to enjoy our wonderful countryside, towns and beaches, this is a reason to be cheerful indeed.

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