Spain saw record number of visitors in 2017 despite scares

Tourists pose for a photograph at the Mayor square in central Madrid, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. Spain says it has broken its record of international visitors for the fifth consecutive year in 2017 with 82 million tourists that chose restive Catalonia as their main Spanish destination. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Tourists pose for a photograph next to the "Statue of The Bear and The Strawberry Tree" at Sol square in downtown Madrid, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. Spain says it has broken its record of international visitors for the fifth consecutive year in 2017 with 82 million tourists that chose restive Catalonia as their main Spanish destination. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

MADRID — Spain says it had a record number of international visitors in 2017 and that one in five tourists chose the restive Catalonia region as their main destination.

Preliminary statistics released by the Ministry of Tourism late Wednesday showed Spain had 82 million visitors from other countries last year, an increase of nearly 9 percent from 2016.

The ministry says the annual numbers, the fifth in a row to set a record, let Spain surpass the United States in the volume of incoming tourists to become the world's second most-visited country after France.

Some 18 million visitors went to Spain's northeast Catalonia region, where the killing of 16 people in extremists' attacks over the summer and a Catalan push for independence in October had raised concerns in the industry.

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