Despite the credit crunch, thousands of Britons are still relocating to Spain while the country is still tops for Scottish and British holidaymakers
THE number of people seeking a new life in Spain has surged by 12 per cent as Britons firmly established themselves as the country’s fourth-largest immigrant community.
At the same time a new poll shows that among the Scottish, at least, Spain is still the Number One holiday destination.
Figures show more than 1.2 million passengers travelled from Scotland to Spain last year. It was the country’s most popular destination.
And in further good news a poll by the British Travel Association (ABTA) suggests that a majority of Britons will be spending the same or more money this year on their holidays.
Citing the need to unwind and to have something to look forward to, over 66 per cent of those asked said they would not cut back on holidays.
Figures released yesterday by the Spanish government reveal that the number of British expatriates registered as resident in Spain rose to 352,000 last year.
That gave Spain a bigger British population than all but eight local authorities in England.
It also emerged that immigrants are no longer mainly pensioners. The figures show only one third of Britons living in Spain are over 55.
The Foreign Office believes the official Spanish figure still hugely under-represents the real numbers living in Spain. It estimates that around one million Britons live permanently here.
The bad news though was that according to Spanish tourist industry figures the number of Britons visiting Spain dropped by 15 per cent in November on the previous year.
That said, around 17 million British tourists land at Spanish airports or drive across the border every year, according to the Foreign Office.
They account for approximately a third of all Spain’s tourists, bringing the country 11 per cent of GDP from tourism.