December 22, 2008 / 10:56 AM / 10 years ago

Spanish tourism plunges as Britons stay at home

A cruise ship is seen in the harbour of Valencia June 23, 2007. REUTERS/Victor Fraile

MADRID (Reuters) - Arrivals of foreign tourists to Spain, the world’s second biggest tourist destination, plummeted in November as top customers Britons and Germans stayed at home during the global economic slowdown.

Arrivals fell 11.6 percent in the month from a year earlier, the first double-digit decline in years, with British visitors down 15 percent and 7 percent fewer Germans, Spain’s Industry, Tourism and Trade Ministry reported on Monday.

Tourism is Spain’s second biggest industry and leading destinations Catalonia and the Balearic Islands suffered falls of over 10 percent in November.

Foreign tourist arrivals declined 2 percent to 54.6 million in the 11 months to November, marking another economic blow to Spain during the collapse of residential construction and real estate sectors that are its largest industry.

As well as the global downturn, Britons have been hit by a second whammy with sterling slumping to a record low against the euro.

Reporting by Andrew Hay; Editing by Tony Austin

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