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No wane in Spain’s popularity predicted for 2009

2008, although somewhat shaky for many, was a good year for this popular European tourist destination, with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) ranking Spain the 'Top Holiday Destination in 2008', with a total of 12,029,325 holidays attributed, ahead of both France and Italy. These findings were also corroborated by BAA Scotland's figures that have shown that the Iberian skies were busy with Scottish-departed planes in 2008 – with Spain the most popular travel destination for those travelling overseas from Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh Airports.

And with a healthy year of tourism behind it, Spain is looking forward to a similar 2009, even given the continued economic downturn., a site that offers the easiest way to search for flights online, revealed five Spanish destinations made their Top Ten Most Popular Destinations for 2009, a list based on the destinations most searched for on the site. With Malaga, Alicante, Tenerife, Palma and Murcia all residing in the top ten, Spain seems on track to have another bumper year. Barry Smith, Skyscanner co-founder, explains,

"This year, it's all about making your money go as far as possible, which is why Spain remains an extremely popular destination for British travellers. It's close, warm and still very good value."

And Skyscanner is not the only one to recognise Spain's positive credentials. In their 2009 Travel Trends Report, ABTA highlighted Spain's consistent appeal as "a destination with so much variety that its attractions appeal to a wide variety of travellers, whether it's adventure or culture seekers, families or pilgrims. While its countryside, language and culture are quite different from our own, Brits really do feel at home in Spain. They are reassured by its excellent infrastructure and facilities, and are warmly welcomed."

The continued draw of Spain as a holiday destination with a great many assets is excellent news for those looking to invest in property in the country and as Martin Dell of Spanish property portal, explains there are certain types of property that remain ever-popular, "the majority of foreign buyers are more interested in traditional inland property or a beachfront lifestyle."

When it comes to traditional properties of this kind – and in turn the 'true' Spanish lifestyle that is so appealing for many – there is one province that stands out and yet still represents a good buy. Mike Hamilton, MD of Casas de Lorca sheds light on why Murcia is an up-and-coming region for those considering buying property in Spain,

"When speaking to people who are looking to buy property in Spain – be it for their own use as a holiday home or as an investment property that can be rented out – I find that a great deal are drawn to the country for its lifestyle and therefore are looking for the 'true Spain' over and above more well-known 'Britain in the sun'-type resorts. They want to integrate with the Spanish, enjoy the beauty and space of the rolling countryside and learn the language. Murcia is one Spanish region where these things can be enjoyed with ease and where property is still affordable, which ultimately in these challenging times is of utmost importance."

The affordability of Murcia as a province when compared to other more well-known coastal regions such as the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca, for example, means that essentially the British pound can go further to buy a bigger property of high quality for the same price as a property of limited size and value elsewhere. Supporting this fact, have shown in their latest independent findings that average house prices in Murcia are 18.4% cheaper than the Spanish average (an average of €202k compared to the Spanish average of €247k).