Arrivals of foreign tourists to Spain, the world's second biggest tourist destination, plummeted in November as top customers Britons and Germans stayed at home during the global economic slowdown.
Arrivals fell 11.6% in the month from a year earlier, the first double-digit decline in years, with British visitors down 15% and 7% fewer Germans, Spain's Industry, Tourism and Trade Ministry reported. In October the percentage was 5.4% down. Tourism is Spain's second biggest industry and leading destinations Catalonia and the Balearic Islands suffered falls of over 10% in November. Foreign tourist arrivals declined 2% to 54.6 million in the 11 months to November, marking another economic blow to Spain during the collapse of residential construction and real estate sectors that are its largest industry. Spanish hotel activity (calculated by the number of nights) also dropped 10.6% in November over a year ago, after having fallen 5.1% in October. Foreigners in hotels (half the sector) also were down significantly with the British leading with 12.1%; the French 11.8% and Germans 8.8%. Tourism represents 12% of GDP for Spain, which is the world's second tourist destination behind France. Spain received 59.2 million tourists last year, up 1.7% over 2006 and was forecasting a 4% growth this year.