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Spain draws record number of tourists, visitor spending up

January 16, 2019
FILE - In this file photo dated Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, tourists view the scene outside the Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain. Industry, Trade and Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said Wednesday Jan. 16, 2019, that Spanish government figures show the country received a national record of 82.6 million foreign tourists last year. (AP Photo/Paul White, FILE)
FILE - In this file photo dated Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, tourists view the scene outside the Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain. Industry, Trade and Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said Wednesday Jan. 16, 2019, that Spanish government figures show the country received a national record of 82.6 million foreign tourists last year. (AP Photo/Paul White, FILE)

MADRID (AP) — Spanish government figures show the country received a national record of 82.6 million foreign tourists last year.

Industry, Trade and Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said Wednesday the figures show Spain remains competitive as it battles to overtake France, the world’s top destination in 2017 with almost 87 million arrivals.

France has not yet published its total for 2018.

Maroto says the number of visitors to Spain last year was up almost 1 percent on 2017. The visitors spent almost 90 billion euros ($103 billion), up 3.1 percent.

Hector Gomez, the head of the Spanish tourism authority Turespana, warned that Britain’s exit from the European Union, European parliament elections in May and possible government elections in Spain make it hard to say how international tourism will perform in 2019.

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