France and the United Kingdom take the lions share of Saudi Visa cards expenditure for the peak summer period of June to August, according to the latest figures released by Visa International.
Closer to home, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are increasing in popularity as holiday destinations with Saudi families. With over 40,000 Saudis—90 percent of those who travel to the US every year—canceling their US trips this year and increased Gulf Arab travel to other Arab countries according to ACE Travel, with estimated growth between 20 percent and 30 percent for Cairo and a modest five to 10 percent growth to Dubai for the 2002 holiday season.
Saudi travelers made a total of 647,000 Visa transactions at merchant outlets abroad in the summer of 2001 with a total value of $167.5 million. This was an increase of seven percent in transactions and 13 percent in expenditure at points of sale over the previous year. August was the month when they spent most of their money at shops outside the Kingdom's borders. Spending abroad amounted to $77.5 million during this month last year, which is 17 percent more than in August 2000.
When looking at the three months of June, July and August, it would also appear that there is an exodus to Europe, particularly in August. Last year Saudi cardholders spent almost half ($35.1 million) of the total summer budget of $77.5 million on the continent and the UK. France, the UK, Switzerland, Cyprus, Italy and Spain are the most popular destinations in Europe, with Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain being the most visited spots in the Arab World.
Saudis conducted an increasing number of transactions on their Visa cards in France and the United Kingdom during the summer period from June-August 2000 and 2001. With a total of 62,000 transactions equating to $18 million spent in France during 2001, which is an increase of 49 percent and 21 percent respectively over the 2000. In the United Kingdom on the other hand the number of transactions stood at 71,800 equating to $21.3 million for 2001, which is an increase of 18 percent and eight percent respectively over the same period of last year.
On their heels are two very popular Arab countries, Egypt and the UAE, with Visa expenditure in Egypt during the summer of 2001 standing at 29,400 transactions, with expenditure of $9.5 million, which is a 13 percent and seven percent increase over the 2000 figures respectively. The UAE on the other hand also saw increased Visa usage during that same period with transactions standing at 52,200 for 2001, which is an 11 percent increase over 2000, however the value of those transactions registered a slight four percent drop for the same period. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )