SPAIN has trumped the US to become the world’s second-most visited country.
Speaking in Italy late last night, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said 82 million people visited Spain last year, a 9% increase on 2016.
The staggering figures came despite the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and the Catalunya referendum crisis which saw a dip in bookings.
Tourism earnings rose 12%, totaling €87 billion.
In 2016, Spain welcomed 75.3 million visitors, just behind the United States with 75.6 million, while France – despite its own terror woes – easily remained the world leader with 82.6 million visitors, according to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
International tourism to the United States shrank during the first five months of Donald Trump’s presidency, according to the US International Trade Administration.
Arrivals fell 5% in the first quarter and 3% in the second quarter, official figures show.
Rajoy praised the Spanish tourism sector’s ‘great effort’, as tourism arrivals beat records for the fifth consecutive year.
Arrivals recovered after dropping off by five percent year-on-year in October as massive demonstrations were staged following a failed independence bid.
France – still the most-visited country – said in December it estimated 2017 arrivals at upwards of 89 million.