UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain visitors to UK up 6.6% in 2016

LONDON, 5th December 2017 (WAM) — Visitors to the United Kingdom from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain totalled 659,466 in 2016, an increase of 6.6 percent, or almost 5,000 more visitors than the previous year, according to data released today by organisers of the Arabian Travel Market, ATM. The next ATM, the 25th in the series, will be held at Dubai World Trade Centre from 22-25 April 2018.

Over 350,000 visitors came from the UAE, more than 150,000 from Saudi Arabia, over 100,000 from Kuwait and just under 50,000 from Bahrain, including both citizens and expatriate residents. The statement did not explain whether expatriate residents from the UK and the European Union, who do not require visas to enter the UK, were included in the totals.

In a statement, Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director at ATM, said, “The average spent per trip to the UK by visitors from KSA, UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain, per person, ranged from US$1,150 to US$3,153 in 2016. With a choice of 32 weekly direct flights to the UK, visitors from Saudi Arabia alone spent US$485 million in 2016, the highest average spend per visit of any of the UK’s source markets.

“Because GCC currencies are pegged to the US dollar, (apart from the Kuwaiti dinar, which is pegged to a basket of currencies including the US Dollar and the Euro) outbound travellers from the GCC to the UK continue to take advantage of the dollar to sterling exchange rate. In June 2015, the UK pound was worth $1.59, today it is around $1.33, a fall of over 16 percent.”

The report, which was conducted by ATM’s research partner Colliers International, confirmed London as the most popular destination in the UK in 2016, recording almost 3.5 million room nights, compared to 3.9 million for the rest of England, 321,000 in Scotland, 215,000 in Wales, and almost 12,500 in Northern Ireland, in 2016.

“The popularity of destination UK with GCC travellers is echoed by increasing numbers of UK travel professionals attending the annual ATM.,” the report said. “Industry professionals from the UK visiting ATM were up 10 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year and we expect this number to keep rising, with 80 percent of stand space available to UK exhibitors already sold, five months out from the 2018 event.

Deidre Wells, CEO of UKInbound, who will manage the UK stand at the April 2018 ATM, said, “We know that outbound travel from GCC countries alone is expected to grow by over 80 percent in the next 10 years. As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, managing the UK stand at the show is part of our new Global Britain strategy to broaden our international market appeal and will provide a platform to showcase the wealth of tourism attractions in the UK.”

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, WTTC, the total contribution of Travel and Tourism to GDP was GBP209bn, 10.8 percent of GDP in 2016, and is forecast to rise by 2.2 percent in 2017, and to rise by 2.3 percent per year to GBP268.4bn, 11.4 percent of GDP in 2027, by which time international tourist arrivals are forecast to reach over 54 million, generating expenditure of GBP42bn, an increase of 3.8 percent per year, the report said.

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