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Spain on top of the world

With a record 60.5 million international visitors in 2013, Spain has retaken its position as the third most visited country in the world, knocking China off this spot. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reported the success of the country’s tourism sector while addressing the 7th Exceltur Forum recently in Madrid.

First and second places continue to be occupied by France with 83 million international visitors and the United States with 67 million, according to World Tourism Organisation statistics. Rajoy said Spain’s tourism data “is the best in the history of Spain” and figures released by Frontur showed visitor arrivals to the country to have risen by 5.6% in 2013 over 2012, boosting GDP by 11%.

Europeans, particularly Brits, have long flocked to Spain’s sunny Costas finding the lure of easy accessibility, beautiful beaches, sunshine and sightseeing hard to resist. Chinese and Russian visitor numbers showed the greatest growth in 2013, however, with 35% more Chinese and 31.6% more Russians discovering these delights for themselves.

Estate agents have also reported growing interest, percolating sales of holiday homes, last year as the Spanish market began to show early signs of emergence from four years of economic doldrums – and this trend is expected to continue throughout 2014.

CLC World Resorts & Hotels, with the company’s estate agency arm CLC Estates, is sharing the mood of optimism with plans to launch a new upscale development, with sales of high specification, luxury apartments, at its prestigious Club La Costa World multi resort site on the Costa del Sol. “We are delighted as an international company with 32 resorts and hotels worldwide to have our latest project here in southern Spain where our company history first began in 1984,” said a spokesperson, “such a resort will be tangible evidence of our continuing confidence in this market.”

It is not just as a sunshine destination that Spain wins favour; increasingly holidaymakers on its Costas are discovering the rich culture, history and gastronomy of the country. In its southernmost region of Andalucía, Malaga is no longer simply the airport location for access to the most popular beaches of the Costa del Sol, but a city that is being discovered as a cultural gem awash with impressive architecture, ancient remains, art galleries and museums.

World Tourism Organisation Secretary General Taleb Rifai, commenting on the country’s tourism achievement, is reported as saying it provided proof of how “intelligent, innovative and adjustable the private section is in Spain”.

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