Last year was the strongest 12 months in the past decade for British tourists visiting the Spanish region of Catalonia.

The UK continued to be the second largest source market for tourism in Catalonia, where Barcelona is the regional capital.

This came despite ongoing political uncertainty after the regional government briefly declared independence from Spain last autumn triggering clashes with police.

British tourist numbers rose by 4.9% year-on-year in 2017 to reach 2.16 million, with total spending up by 1.3% to €1.66 million.

Catalonia attracted a total of 19 million foreign visitors, a 5% increase on 2016.

Overall spending rose by 9.6% to €19.1 million.

Catalonia was the top destination for foreign tourists in Spain, receiving more than 23.2% of the total number of visitors to the country, followed by the Canary Islands and the Balearics.

“The tourism sector in Catalonia proved to be robust and to continue to grow despite 2017’s uncertainty, and Catalonia continues to be one of the favourite destinations for the British market,” the Catalan Tourist Board said.

The CTB has declared 2018 as the Year of Cultural Tourism with a focus on nine Unesco World Heritage sites.