Madrid, Jan 23 (IANS/EFE) Spain welcomed 57.7 million foreign tourists in 2012, up 2.7 percent from the previous year, authorities said Tuesday.
Tourist arrivals, however, fell 1.3 percent last month, compared with December 2011, to 2.6 million, the Industry, Energy and Tourism Ministry said.
France, Germany and Russia were the top sources of tourists last year, while the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia registered the biggest increase in tourist arrivals.
Spain was unable to break the pre-recession tourist-arrival records set in 2007, when 58.7 million visitors came to the Iberian nation, and 2006, when 58 million people visited the country, despite the strong performance last year.
The figures released Tuesday were slightly weaker than the numbers discussed last week by Industry, Energy and Tourism Minister Jose Manuel Soria, who said 2012 tourist arrivals would hit 57.9 million, up 3 percent from the previous year.
Tourism is one of the engines of Spain's economy, accounting for more than 10 percent of the gross domestic product.