Industry and Tourism Minister José Manuel Soria said that from January to September 52.4 million foreign tourists had come to Spain, an increase of 7.4 percent on the same period last year. On this basis, Soria said he was confident that 2013’s end-of-year record of 60.66 million visitors would be broken.
According to the Frontur industry survey, the greatest numbers of visitors to Spain up to September came from the usual suspects of Britain, France and Germany, with the French providing one of the biggest single leap in arrivals – up 11.5 percent to 8.3 million. Visits from Italy also grew sharply, by 15.9 percent to almost three million.
On the other hand, the number of tourists arriving from Russia fell between January and September compared to the previous year by 7.6 percent, down to 12.6 million.
The regions which have seen the biggest boosts in arrival numbers so far in 2014 are the Canary Islands, up 11.4 percent to 8.36 million, and Madrid, with growth of 9.6 percent to 3.4 million visitors.
Catalonia, meanwhile, has also had more visitor arrivals in 2014, up by 10.6 percent on last year. Not all of the consequences of this increase have been welcomed however, with the antics of some tourists in central Barcelona causing protests in the summer by locals.
Residents from the tightly-packed seaside neighbourhood of Barceloneta took to the streets against the ravages of 'low-cost tourism’ and unseemly behaviour by visitors, many of whom are crammed into unregistered holiday apartments in the area.
Photographs of young men running naked through the streets of Barceloneta underlined an impression that the impact of tourism on central Barcelona was out of control.