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Middle East visitors’ key to USD 363 bn UK tourism growth forecast

January 2017

January 25, 2017 | 10:45 | Dubai

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council the total contribution of travel and tourism to the United Kingdom is forecast to reach USD 363.77 billion by 2026. In 2015, (the most recent official full year figures available) the UAE set a new record for overseas consumer spending in the United Kingdom when receipts from 347,000 arrivals increased 12% to reach USD 608.99 million.

“This will rise further as visitors take advantage of the low exchange rate following last year’s Brexit vote – the UK voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, a shock result triggering a fall of over 10% in the value of sterling against the US dollar, providing Gulf visitors with added value,” said Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, Arabian Travel Market, which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre from 24 – 27 April.

“The UK is a close partner of the UAE and wider Middle East region, in both tourism and trade, welcoming more than one million visitors from January to October 2016 – a year on year increase of 4%.

“The UK will also have strong representation at Expo 2020, as the seventh country to announce its participation. As the fourth largest industry, hospitality and tourism is a lynchpin of the UK economy, currently representing 10% of GDP, or around $178.82 billion,” added Press.

“The numbers speak for themselves. While Britain has enjoyed a long and rich history of hospitality and heritage, the new conditions have created a favourable opportunity for the UK in the midst of significant economic uncertainties.”

From January to April of last year Middle Eastern nationalities totalled 38% of the overall UK tax free spend, with a healthy 11% YOY growth against a -6% decline overall in the UK. Over that period, nationals from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia spent an average of $1,923, $1,663 and $1,570 per person respectively.

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