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Spain breaks record for international tourists in May

Spain received the most international visitors for the month of May on record, its statistics agency said Tuesday.

The country admitted 8.2 million tourists from abroad in the month, 17.6% more than May 2022 and also 3.8% more than in the previous May record set in 2019, ahead of travel shock prompted by the pandemic, Spain’s INE said.

Tourists spent 9.73 billion euros ($10.62 billion), or an average around EUR1,183 per person, up 3% on year, INE added.

It also received around a million more visitors than April this year, a month that included the traditionally busy Easter holiday period.

Guests from the U.K. constituted the highest number of visitors from a single country, with 1.8 million, around 22% of the total, with neighboring France and Germany behind with 1.2 million and 1.1 million respectively.

Tourists are up 28% in the first five months of 2023, compared with the same period last year, the statistics agency added.

Economists cite Spain’s tourism industry as key to its economic growth story this year, after international visitors jumped 130% in 2022 from 2021. However, there have been fears that slowdowns in some countries for whom Spain is a popular destination–such as the U.K. and Germany–alongside a collapse in visitors from Russia, could hamper efforts to mount a full-scale revival of the sector.

The latest tourism figures also come less than three weeks ahead of a general election, in which incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is banking on the country’s economic recovery, alongside concerns of a surge of the far-right, as part of his re-election campaign, although he currently lags in the polls to his centre-right opponents.

Write to Ed Frankl at [email protected]

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