Visitors to the UAE spent around $4.7 billion via their Visa cards last year, a 17.1 per cent increase compared to the previous year.
According to the Visa Tourism Outlook UAE report, unveiled at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 2013, the top ten source markets accounted for 62.6 per cent of total tourism spend.
The UK continues to be the top source market to the UAE with British Visa cardholders spending $540.4 million in 2012, an increase of 10.4 per cent on the previous year. Russian visitors followed closely with transactions worth $444.6 million, an increase of 29.8 per cent.
Saudi Arabia was the third biggest source market for UAE tourism with the visitors spending $420.4 million through their Visa cards followed by US and China. Qatar constituted the top ten source markets last year with tourism receipts amounting up to $196.9 million, experiencing a sharp 56.9 per cent increase.
The tourist expenditure in the retail sector remained the highest with a $1.4 billion followed by the accommodation sector with $1.1 billion. The restaurants accounted for $75.3 million in tourist expenditure and a further $15.1 billion in fast food restaurants.
The report also noted that the highest value of tourism receipts was recorded in January with the transaction amounting to $485.1 million, noting a 36 per cent increase from the previous year.
“Turning our transaction data into useful business information is one way Visa delivers value to businesses and countries where tourism are strong growth indicators – this has increased relevance to the UAE, where tourism contributes nearly 6.6 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product ,” said Marcello Baricordi, general manager of Visa, UAE.