By James Bryce

THE lure of year-round sunshine remains strong for visitors to Spain after it was revealed as the world’s second most popular holiday destination.

Tourism revenue for 2011 was up 8.6 per cent on the previous year, raking in a record 43 billion euros, according to the World Tourism Organisation (WTO).

The figures are a welcome boost to Spain’s struggling economy, which is currently in the midst of a double-dip recession.

The US claimed top spot with income of €83.5 billion, while France was third after generating revenue of €38.7 billion.

The UK – number seven on the list – enjoyed a 6.9 per cent rise in tourism, boosting the economy by €25.8 billion.

Other countries to make the top 10 were China, Italy, Germany, Australia, Macao and Hong Kong (both part of China).

Despite its failing economy Greece went up from 21st to 19th position, while Russia moved up from 30th to 24th.

Worldwide, the number of travellers visiting a foreign country rose 4.6 per cent to 982 million, according to the report.

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