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Spain's Tourism Sector Benefits from Turmoil in North Africa

Source: EFE - Thu 14th Apr 2011

Spain's tourism registered a noteworthy 2.4% surge in the first quarter of 2011, the largest increase among all sectors of the Spanish economy and a circumstance due to the diversion of foreign tourist flows from Egypt and Tunisia.

The president of the alliance for tourist excellence Exceltur, Sol Melia hotel chain Vice President Sebastian Escarrer, told a press conference on Wednesday that the sharp shift in foreign demand had almost exclusively benefited the Canary Islands, the Spanish archipelago off the coast of West Africa.

The Canaries registered 89% of the increase in foreign tourists during this year's first quarter.

In contrast, domestic tourism, which represents 50% of the total, has fallen off substantially due to the deterioration in Spaniards' disposable income and confidence in the economy.

Exceltur believes that the diversion of tourists to Spain will increase in the summer and it has increased its forecast for growth in the tourism sector to 2.2% for 2011, double its earlier prediction in January and almost triple the average expected growth for the Spanish economy as a whole.

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