SIZZLING: Benalmadena beach this summer

SPAIN has already smashed last year’s international tourism record before December figures have even been counted.

From January to November, some 77.8 million international visitors came to Spain, up from 75.6 million during the whole of 2016.

According to Frontur, the tourism branch of the country’s National Institute of Statistics, the figure for 2017 is likely to rise above 80 million once December figures are collected.

That estimate represents a growth of five million tourists since 2016.

The continued tourism boom comes despite Catalunya’s tourism activity taking a 15% hit as a result of the region’s political instability in October and a 2.3% hit in November.

The numbers are good news for the industry, especially considering that Catalunya received a quarter of all foreign visitors to Spain in 2016.

“The tourism sector is one of the most strongly affected by the instability,” Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told Parliament at the time of the peak in the Catalan crisis.

Fortunately, it hasn’t seemed to have affected tourists as much as feared.

The region itself actually remains the most visited ahead of the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, despite its recent  slump.

The rest of Spain saw a 7.4% rise in foreign tourism numbers in November 2017.

So far this year, 18 million Brits have chosen Spain as their holiday destination, a 7% increase compared to the same 11-month period in 2016.

In second place came German tourists – 11.4 million, up 6.1% – followed by French visitors, 10.7 million of whom have headed for Spain so far this year.

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