Spain tourist arrivals to drop 10 pct in 2009

Sat Jul 25, 2009 1:44pm EDT
 
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MADRID (Reuters) - The drop in tourist arrivals in 2009 will be no more than 10 percent, Industry and Tourism Minister Miguel Sebastian said on Saturday.

"The decline in tourist arrivals at the end of 2009 will be no more than 10 percent," Sebastian told representatives of business groups and trade unions from the tourism sector.

The number of tourists visiting Spain in the first-half fell 11.4 percent to 23.6 million from a year ago, according to data released on Tuesday by the government.

The international tourism sector is facing a "complicated" situation, Sebastian said, flagging that Britain's economic difficulties and the depreciation of the pound are the main reason behind the slump in tourist arrivals to Spain.

The drop in foreign tourists will be partly offset however by a rise in domestic tourism, which the government is forecasting at 4 percent this year, Sebastian said.

On Friday, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the government has approved a new stimulus package for the tourism sector worth 1 billion euros ($1.42 billion).

The tourism sector accounts for about 11 percent of Spain's GDP.

(Reporting by Judy MacInnes; editing by Alison Williams)