Monday, June 13, 2011

We didn’t run into a lot of Americans in Spain

The sun and beaches are a big attraction for residents of cooler, cloudier northern Europe. There are three ferries a week from Portsmouth and Plymouth in England to Santander, shown here, on the north coast.
In a tapas bar in San Sebastian I heard American voices coming from several different corners. That’s unusual here in Spain. Salamanca has a Spanish language center for foreigners, so we heard Americans there.

But the U.S. doesn’t even make it into Spain’s Top 10 countries for foreign visitors. Great Britain is No. 1 with more than 12 million visitors to Spain, followed at some distance by Germany, France, the Nordic countries and Italy. Even tiiny Ireland, with 1/50th of our population, beats us out.

Mexico and Canada lead

Given that Spanish is taught in virtually every high school in America, it seems surprising that we don’t visit Spain more.

The top destinations for U.S. travelers in 2009 were:  Mexico (19.5 million), Canada (11.7 million), the United Kingdom (2.7 million), France (1.9 million) and Italy (1.8 million). followed by Germany, Japan and Spain.

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