Between July and September this year visitors to Spain spent a healthy 19.7€ billion, an eight per cent increase on 2010’s figures.

Recently released government figures also show that in September alone tourists spent 5.43€ billion, which represents a 5.8 per cent improvement on the same month in 2010. The average daily spend was 105€, slightly less than last year, but still the third best result in history behind September 2007 and 2008.

Until the end of October, the annual amount spent by visitors totals 42.24€ billion, up eight per cent from last year. The increase in tourist numbers has been partly attributed to the Papal visit to Madrid earlier in the year.

As always, the British lead the field, their dedication to Spain clearly displayed with an outlay of 8.54€ billion, a slight increase on last year’s figures. German tourists spent 6.9€ billion and French holidaymakers 4.48€ billion.

Málaga city, in particular, has experienced far more interest from foreign visitors. In September the number of tourists rose by 15 per cent to 51,680, figures that include a whopping 90.6 per cent increase in Russian visitors, the most impressive improvement registered. Málaga is also becoming far more popular with Scandinavian holidaymakers, drawing in 72.6 per cent more Swedes and 65.5 more Finns.

However, the city continues to be most popular with Brits, Germans, Italians and the French: Carolina España, Málaga’s Councillor for Economy and Tourism, revealed that the best news for the city was not only the increase in the number of tourists, but a corresponding boom in hotel occupancy levels, due at least in part to the desire of holidaymakers to stay for longer periods.

The National Institute of Statistics (INE) stated that 91,641 tourists visited Málaga in September alone, making it the second most improved Spanish city after Cordoba.

Although Málaga province’s many beach resorts still attract a faithful clientele, the growing popularity of city breaks is perhaps partly fuelled by the desire of a new generation of tourist who wish to enjoy an authentic Spanish experience.

Previously overshadowed by other Andalusian cities – such as Granada and Seville – that have a more glamorous reputation, it is encouraging to know that the attractive and fascinating port city of Málaga is finally gaining the number of appreciative visitors that it deserves.