Good news has been few and far between for the Spanish government of late, but it seems now for the tourist industry the sun has finally broken out of the clouds. The latest figures from the federal ministry of tourism show a modest increase in the number of foreign visitors to the country last year, with 52.6 million international arrivals in 2010 as compared to 52.5 million in 2009.
Tourist numbers have declined steadily in the country since the financial crisis hit, with a 2.3 per cent decrease in the number of foreign visitors in 2008 and 8.7 per cent in 2009. Spain has faced ongoing problems since the GFC with a national debt crisis and a severe decline in housing prices, so it's extremely positive to see the tourist industry getting back on its feet.
Whilst the figures appear modest next to the overall 5% increase to Western European tourism, the ministry noted that in the face of a number of external factors - disruptions to travel from volcanic ash and domestic air traffic control strikes, and inclement weather in the UK and US in December - local tourism was still doing well.
The tourism sector has shown its strength in the context of the crisis that we have experienced, a statement said.The forecasts for 2010 showed a fall in tourism, but the sector has beaten the predictions of just six months ago and ended the year with positive figures, and tourist arrivals recorded the first increase since 2007.