Middle East visitors integral to $363 billion UK tourism growth forecast
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council the total contribution of travel and tourism to the United Kingdom is forecast to reach $363.77 billion (£290.9 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 $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.”
Some of the UK-based exhibitors already committed to participating at this year’s ATM include: AVIS Budget EMEA Ltd, CitySpeed Tours, Digital Trip Ltd, Hertz MEA, Conxxe, JAC Travel LTD, Let's Travel Services Limited, Miki Travel Limited, Oceandusk Group, RATEGAIN TECHNOLOGIES LIMITED, Rocco Forte Hotels Ltd, The Travelbook Group, Travco Corporation Ltd., Travellanda, Traveltek Ltd, and Chic Outlets.
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.
A recent report from card payments processor Worldpay revealed UAE tourists visiting the UK in December spent nearly a third more than they did in the corresponding month in 2015 and, according to predictions from Visit Britain, a taste for luxury goods could see international tourists spend as much as $30.13bn in the country this year, an increase of 8% on 2016.
Global arrival numbers to Britain are rising steadily and are expected to reach 38.1 million by the end of the year, an increase of 4% on 2016.
Heightened activity was first reported in July 2016, when 3.8 million visitors arrived in a single month, spending $3.12bn and continuing a long-term pattern of growth - this year Britain is expected to enjoy the biggest rise in tourism spending since the 2012 London Olympics.
CitySpeed Tours said: “We are very excited about exhibiting at this year’s Arabian Travel Market. Every year we are welcoming more and more visitors from the Middle East and the event will provide us with the perfect opportunity to showcase to the region exactly what we offer.”
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