Spain - Tourism, travel, and recreation
In 1998 Spain was Europe's second most popular tourist destination after France. In that year, 43,252,000 people visited Spain and tourism receipts totaled $26.7 billion. Many are attracted to the country by its accessibility, warm climate, beaches, and relatively low costs. Among the principal tourist attractions are Madrid, with its museums, the Escorial Palace, and the nearby Valley of the Fallen (dead in the Civil War); Toledo, with its churches and its paintings by El Greco; the Emerald Coast around San Sebastián; the Costa Brava on the coast of Catalonia, north of Barcelona; Granada, with the Alhambra and the Generalife; Sevilla, with its cathedral and religious processions; and the Canary and Balearic islands.
Soccer is the most popular sport in Spain, and many cities have large soccer stadiums; Spain was host to the World Cup competition in 1982. Barcelona was the site of the 1992 Summer Olympics and in the same year, an International Exposition was held in Sevilla. Among traditional attractions are the bullfights, held in Madrid from April through October, and pelota, an indoor ball game in which spectators bet on the outcome.
Passports are required of all persons entering Spain, but US citizens may stay six months without a visa, and citizens of many other countries need no visas for stays of up to 90 days.
In 2000, tourist arrivals numbered 47,897,915 with receipts of $31.4 billion. There were 676,672 hotel rooms, with 1,314,491 beds and an occupancy rate of 59%.
According to 2001 US government estimates, the cost of staying in Madrid was approximately $236 per day. Barcelona was estimated to cost $245 per day in travel expenses.