Spain has been keen to win back third position in world tourism by setting a new record in foreign arrivals last year. The surge has played a pivotal role in the country's struggle to leave the recession behind.
Foreign tourist arrivals surged by another 5.6 percent in 2013, the Spanish government announced Tuesday.
There were 60.6 million international visitors last year, pushing Spain ahead of China, while still trailing France with 83 million visitors and the US with 67 million.
"The new figures for 2013 allow our country to retake the number-three position in this indicator," Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in a statement, pointing to tourism's crucial importance for the southern European eurozone member.
The industry accounted for 10.9 percent of Spain's total economic output and 11.9 percent of all jobs in 2012, with final calculations for 2013 still pending as December figures remain unconfirmed for the time being.
British tourists led the way to Spain last year, accounting for almost a quarter of all foreign arrivals. Germany and France came next with about 16 percent each.
The top destinations were once again Catalonia as well as the Balearic Islands such as Majorca.
Spain's Industry, Energy and Tourism Ministry admitted the surge in foreign arrivals was also partly due to political unrest in Egypt where the turmoil had scared away lots of potential holiday-makers.
hg/slk (AFP, dpa)