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50 YEARS OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS

World's second most visited country

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Alhambra in Granada. Spain has the world's third most Unesco World Heritage Sites - 44 - due to the country's unique and exceptional cultural wealth.

THE trend for global tourism is positive and Spain, as a leading international tourism destination and the country with the second highest number of foreign tourists, is set to gain from this. Fittingly, at the World Tourism Summit in San Sebastian in May, World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili noted that expectations for the global tourism sector are positive.

Spain saw double records in 2017, with good performances in both tourist arrivals and revenue. International arrivals rose more than 8 per cent year-on-year to nearly 82 million while tourism expenditure rose 12.2 per cent to 86.82 billion euros (S$136.55 billion).

The country's traditions, culture and people are among the many reasons why Spain is the world's second most visited country. It has the world's third most Unesco World Heritage Sites - 44 - due to the country's unique and exceptional cultural wealth, ranging from old quarters with historic importance, as well as natural spaces, gardens and monuments.

Spain also houses modernistic and world-class architecture. Gastronomy is one of the most appealing aspects for tourists as Spain offers traditional dishes and specialties per region as well as avant-garde cuisines matched with some of the best wines in the world.

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Spain has made a firm and determined commitment to promote a sustainable and quality tourism sector that actively preserves the environment and promotes digitalisation.

Southeast Asia is an important market for Spain with some 246,614 visitors coming from the region last year. Catalonia, Madrid and AndalucĂ­a were the most preferred regional destinations for travellers. Meanwhile, within Southeast Asia, 52,000 tourists came from just Singapore alone and they spent an average of 1,009 euros via credit card which is higher than the average spending.

The country is currently focusing on intensifying ties to present different tourism choices and showcase products that can offer tourists a unique experience with high quality infrastructure and services.