UK tourists to UAE outspend other visitors by nearly two to one
Statistics released by Visa International, the world's leading payment solutions provider, on summer spending trends by visitors to the U.A.E. have revealed that tourists and business travellers from the United Kingdom were far and away the biggest spenders during the 2005 summer season. Summer spending for the months of June, July and August, increased by around 30% as compared to 2004, up to around US$ 342 million. Of this amount, U.K. visitors to U.A.E. spent US$ 74 million, nearly 45% more than Saudi visitors, traditionally the biggest spenders among travellers in the Middle East. Saudis spent US$ 41 million in the U.A.E. during the summer season. According to Visa’s spending statistics, visitors from the U.S. came in third, spending US$ 39 million, followed by Kuwaitis who spent US$ 17 million. Other high-spending visitors were from Australia (US$ 11.5 million), Qatar (US$ 11.3 million), Germany (US$ 11.2 million), and France (US$ 10.2 million).
Kamran Siddiqi, General Manager Visa International Middle East, says that the U.A.E. summer spending statistics for 2005 reflect a trend among travelers away from hard currency to payment cards. “As the most widely accepted payment card around the world and the most convenient and secure way to pay, Visa cards are becoming an increasingly indispensable aid for tourists and business travelers. The overall rise in summer travel and tourism spending not only indicates the growing popularity of the U.A.E. as a tourism and commercial travel destination but shows equally how much travel revenue is generated through Visa card transactions. Carrying cash from one developed country to another is simply not necessary anymore. Using Visa payment cards is easier and safer. The risk of receiving counterfeit currency during travels is removed and travelers can easily keep track of their expenses whilst away from home.”
Siddiqi attributes the robust growth of U.A.E.’s tourism sector to the winning combination of the country’s tourism development strategies and exceptional global marketing. “The United Arab Emirates has invested heavily in one of the most impressive tourism and business infrastructures anywhere and has done a tremendous job of letting the world know about it. This investment is beginning to pay off. There has been a continuous rise in tourism and commercial travel revenues over the last sixteen years and, with the spate of tourism and real estate development projects slated to be opened over the next two to three years, we are confident that growth in tourism will rise dramatically.” Siddiqi gave particular credit to Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) for an outstanding job in promoting Dubai as a holiday destination in Europe, especially in the U.K. “The brilliant marketing efforts of DTCM in Europe and its superb relations with the trade, which offered attractive and competitive tourism packages are clearly reflected in our spending statistics.”
Khalid Bin Sulayem, DTCM’s Director General, confirmed Siddiqi’s remarks, saying, “The expansion of our tourism infrastructure and our concerted marketing efforts have been carried out according to a carefully concieved Master Plan based upon the inspired vision of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Dubai’s tourist industry is gaining momentum as our reputation for excellence precedes us. The opening of several stunning properties this year has further enhanced Dubai’s world-leading hospitality landscape this year.” He also cites recent highly publicized developments like Jumeirah International’s Madinat Jumeirah resort as well as the launch of the landmark Ibn Batutta Mall, as major attractors for the 2005 summer season. “The anticipation and publicity surrounding the Mall of the Emirates, the Palm Islands projects, Burj Dubai, Dubailand, Dubai Festival City, Dubai International City and the Dubai International Financial Centre have also contributed to the overall excitement among summer holiday makers from Europe and the U.S.,” he said. “As these projects open, we expect tourism spending in Dubai to increase exponentially.” He added that an increasing number of UK travellers are rating Dubai over destinations like New York, for a 'short-break' holiday.
Currently 115 direct flights per week link Dubai and the UK and 190 UK tour operators feature Dubai in their itinerary, with numbers expected to grow in parallel with the rapid expansion of Dubai's tourism infrastructure and the increase in the volume of business and the number of commercial exhibitions, conferences and other business events.
Tourism and business travel revenues dominated Visa’s summer spending statistics, with Visa cardholders spending US$ 74 million on hotel accommodations and US$ 23 million at Duty Free Stores during June, July and August of this year. Other travel-related businesses also registered strong increases in spending. Last summer Visa cardholders spent 72% more on airline tickets, 48% more with travel agencies, 57% more on dining out, and 31% more on car rentals than in the summer of 2004. Retail sales during Dubai Summer Surprises were focused on luxury and fashion goods, with US$ 38 million spent on jewellery and accessories and US$ 14 million being spent on clothing.
Olivier Louis, General Manager of The One & Only Royal Mirage, one of Dubai’s most popular resorts for the affluent European traveller, has witnessed an unprecedented growth in high-end tourism from the U.K. and other E.C. countries over the last year. “The One & Only Royal Mirage now benefits from over 90% occupancy all the year around. Clearly, the growth in our business has been facilitated by payment card systems that Visa and other payment solutions providers offer.” Mr. Louis credits the DTCM and other Dubai government authorities for supporting the hotel industry in Europe. “The DTCM is a model of how government can support the travel and leisure industry abroad. Their assistance of the Dubai in Europe and internationally has been essential to the remarkable success of our hotel.”
Visa's summer statistics also show that the U.K. is the favoured tourism destination for U.A.E. travellers, who spent US$ 58.5 million on their summer holidays in Britain. This amounted to over double the amount spent in the United States of America, the second most popular holiday destination for U.A.E. residents, who spent US$ 26.4 million Stateside with their Visa cards. Other popular tourism destinations were France (US$ 17 million), Lebanon (US$ 14 million), Germany (US$ 12 million), India (US$ 11 million), Jordan (US$ 9 million), Canada (US$ 6.8 million) and Switzerland (US$ 6.5 million).
About Visa International: Visa International is a service association owned by, and comprised of, 21,000 member banks. These banks have issued over a billion Visa cards worldwide on which US$3 trillion per year is spent across over 150 countries.