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Gaudí's Casa Milà in Barcelona | © Pexels / Pixabay
Gaudí's Casa Milà in Barcelona | © Pexels / Pixabay

This Country Has Just Overtaken the US in Being the World's 2nd Most Popular Country

Picture of Jessica Jones
Updated: 29 January 2018

This country has firmly cemented itself as a tourism Goliath after welcoming a record number of tourists in 2017, and beating the USA as a favourite tourist destination.

Spain welcomed 82 million foreign tourists in 2017, smashing its own tourist record for the fifth year in a row. The record-breaking number was an 8.9% increase on the 2016 total, according to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who announced the figures during a trip to Rome on Wednesday.

The latest figures catapult Spain to a new status as the second most visited country in the world, overtaking the United States; the world’s most visited country is still France.

Tourist spending is also up, which is good news for Spain, which counts on tourism as one of its most important industries. Tourists spent 12.4% more in 2017 than in 2016, splashing an incredible €87 billion.

Spain-loving nations

The British show no sign of falling out of love with Spain, and it is this nationality that visits Spain in the biggest numbers: an estimated 18 million last year. Some of the most popular destinations include the Balearic Islands, home to Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza, and the Canary Islands, which include Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria. Not too far behind the British are the Germans, another northern European nationality that loves the sun, sea and sangria of Spain; 11 million Germans went on holiday to Spain in 2017. In third place were the French, Spain’s northerly neighbours, of whom 6.7 million visited Spain last year.

The news will come as a relief to Spain’s tourism industry, which feared a possible drop in tourist numbers after the August terror attack in Barcelona and Catalonia’s political unrest surrounding its independence referendum in October.