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The poor economic outlook in Europe casts a dark shadow over the sector
01.09.08 - 15:39 -

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Eleven per cent drop in foreign tourism to Andalucía in July
FEWER VISITS. Tourism is in decline. / sur
A total of 1,004,785 tourists visited Andalucía during the month of July, which was an 11.1 per cent drop on the same period last year. This sharp decline in tourism is due, above all, to the economic problems suffered by the United Kingdom, France and Germany over the past year. On the other hand, tourism from Ireland, Holland and the United States increased in July, ensuring that Andalucía was the third ranked destination with respect to the number of foreign tourists it attracted during July.
The problem was not only July. Figures the Survey of Tourist Movement at the Borders (Frontur), published recently by the Ministry for Industry, Commerce and Tourism, shows a general fall in tourism numbers from the beginning of the year. A total of 4.75 million international tourists visited Andalucía in this period, which was 3.6 per cent less than in the first seven months of 2007. The report tells us, nevertheless, that the autonomous community ranks fourth in all of Spain in so far as total foreign tourism is concerned. The figure for Andalucía accounts for 14.1 of the total number of arrivals to the country.
Fewer clients at beach bars and restaurants, less money in the cash registers of coastal supermarkets and falling hotel occupancy figures: most of it boils down to fewer British tourists to the region. They account for 40.3 per cent of visitors arriving from the European Union, but their numbers fell by 4.8 per cent this year, a decrease proportionally smaller than that of French tourism at 27.2 per cent and German tourism at 14.3 per cent. This drop in British, French and German tourism was made up for to some extent by a rise in tourist numbers from Ireland, Holland and the United States. But considering the sheer number of British tourists we are talking about here, the balance is anything but positive. Losses on the Costa del Sol for this period have still to be measured.
There sector also suffered in the rest of the country during July. Spain received 7.1 million tourists in that time, which was an eight per cent drop with respect to the same period last year, amounting to a total fall of 622,971 visitors. On a more positive note, however, the figure increased slightly (0.2 per cent, amounting to a total of 33.7 visitors) with respect to the same period last year.
Bad times
The worsening economic situation in neighbouring countries like France and Italy, for example, means that there were 21.6 per cent fewer French tourists in July and 16.9 per cent Italian tourists. The number of German tourists fell by 5.7 per cent. The figure for British tourists was reduced by 3.1 per cent, with a nine per cent drop in American tourists.
The percentage of tourists who arrived by road was 22.8 less, and hotel stays fell by 7.2 per cent. The figure for those staying in their own homes dropped by 10.8 per cent, while the there were 15 per cent fewer tourists staying with friends in the same period. The only increase was the number of tourists renting houses, which rose by 3.7 per cent in July.
There has been talk at all administrative levels over recent years about an overall regeneration of the tourism industry in Spain, especially with regard to the problem of seasonal tourism and an excessive dependence on sun and beach tourism. It is very important, said the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Miguel Sebastián, to attract tourists who come for other reasons at different times of the year.
The employment figures are suffering as a result, and coupled with the decline in the building industry, the outlook is bleak. More effort will have to be put into revitalising the service sector as a means of compensating for losses in the building industry, said the Minister.
Cataluña was the region with the highest number of tourists in July, attracting a total of 8.44 million tourists, although this was a fall of 2.9 per cent with respect to the same period last year. The second region in tourist numbers was the Balearic Islands, with 5.83 million international tourists during July, which was 0.9 per cent more than in the first seven months of 2007. Third in the ranking were the Canary Islands, with 5.49 million tourists, 3.1 per cent more than the same period last year.
The main means of transport used by international tourists in the first seven months of the year was air, accounting for a total of 26 million tourists and 77.1 per cent of the total number. This was an increase of 2.8 per cent.

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