Spain set for tourism record as U.S. visitors counter Brexit blues
MADRID (Reuters) - Spain is on track for a record year of tourist arrivals, the seventh straight year of new highs, with U.S. and Asian visitors countering the disruption of Brexit and collapse of tour operator Thomas Cook, the industry minister said on Wednesday.
Spain is the world's second-most visited country after France and tourism is crucial for the domestic economy, contributing to nearly 12% of national gross domestic product.
The first eight months of the year saw the number of international tourists to Spain grow by 1.3% to 67.1 million, Industry Minister Reyes Maroto told a news conference.
Increasing tourism from the United States and Asia has helped compensate for a fall in arrivals from the countries that traditionally favour Spain, she said.
While uncertainties such as Brexit and the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook had affected some people's decisions to visit Spain, separatist tensions in the northeastern region of Catalonia have so far had little impact on international tourism, Maroto added.
Spain is forecast to end the year with a 0.7% increase in the number of international tourists, she estimated, which would set a new record of 83.4 million visitors.
(Reporting by Emma Pinedo; Writing by Jessica Jones and Ashifa Kassam; Editing by Pravin Char)