Spain is, after France, the second most popular tourist destination in the world. In 2004, its arrivals market rebounded after a difficult 2003 to exceed well over 53 million, leaving the US in a somewhat distant third place worldwide.

Above average growth in 2004 has strengthened the Spanish position, although an over dependence on the UK and Germany (the source of half of all its incoming market) remains.

During the period of heightened intra-regional tourism post-9/11, Spain found itself to be the chief beneficiary of the booming low-cost airline market and the burgeoning trend towards city breaks. These developments helped to sustain and grow traditional Northern European markets long tipped for stagnation, but the Spanish tourist authorities must also take some credit. In the new millennium they have succeeded in re-branding Spain and celebrating the diversity of a country that was in danger of becoming too readily associated with an increasingly outmoded sun and sea package product.

Today, Spain attracts visitors with everything from its nightlife to its fiestas, its galleries to its football clubs, its beaches to its tapas and it has become a model for embracing the increasingly assertive independent market.

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