, Madrid, Spain, Jul 29 – Spain saw nearly 33 million visitors to the country in the first six months of the year, an 11.7 percent leap from 2015 as people fearful of extremist attacks seek refuge in the Iberian Peninsula.
The largest number of foreign visitors came from Britain, according to the Ine statistics agency, with close to 8.0 million seeking sunshine and warmth in Spain from January to June, a 16.5 percent increase compared with the same period last year.
Germans came a close second, followed by the neighbouring French.
The most popular Spanish region was Catalonia in the northeast, home to Barcelona and its beaches, which saw 7.66 million people visit.
The Canary Islands off the coast of Africa was also highly prized, as were the Balearic Islands where Ibiza and Majorca are located.
Spain is anticipating a record number of tourists to hit its shores this year, having already welcomed just over 68 million foreign travellers in 2015 — making it the third most visited country in the world.
It has long been a magnet for holiday-makers, and even more so in recent months as fears of extremist attacks drive wary travellers away from rival sunshine destinations in North Africa and Turkey.
Portugal is also a destination-of-choice. In 2015, it welcomed a record 10.2 million foreign tourists, and the number is only expected to grow.