Brits would rather take a break from paying off credit card bills than sacrifice their holiday to the UAE - and they spend more than tourists from other countries when they get here.
That picture emerged yesterday as it was revealed British holidaymakers retained their position as the biggest spending travellers in the UAE.
Figures released by card giants VISA showed that about one million holidaymakers from the UK slapped $489.5 million on the plastic while on vacation in the UAE last year - topping Russian tourists, who whacked down $342.5 million.
British tourists enjoy taking time off from their troubles back home in the UAE
Despite a moribund UK economy, the news that the UAE - and Dubai in particular - is proving so popular to British jet-setters is no surprise to Thomas Cook, the UK’s largest holiday firm.
“Even though money is tight, there’s been an increase in holidays,” revealed Emma Staples, a spokesperson for Thomas Cook.
“We’re finding it’s the number one priority. People will save on things like home improvements and paying off credit card loans so they can go away.
“They may be feeling the pinch - but they’re still making sure there’s cash in their pockets for a holiday abroad.”
She added: “Dubai has always been in the top five destinations for our long haul flights - and it’s really taken off in the last few years.” In fact, the UAE comes behind only Australia, Florida, New York and Thailand in Thomas Cook’s long haul list.
Staples added: “It represents five per cent of our long haul market - and that’s not insignificant. The three-night stopover is popular.”
Marcello Baricordi, general manager for VISA in the UAE, said: “The facts show that the UAE is a great destination for the British.”
While Brits may top the pile for the biggest spenders, any UAE shopkeeper catching sight of a well-heeled Chinese visitor better not nip out for lunch – VISA say the average spend of a Chinese tourist per purchase is a hefty $700.
The amount spent by Chinese visitors in the UAE was up a hefty 73 per cent from $130.4 million in 2010 to $225.1 million last year. The card firm said Brits spend an average of $215 per transaction.
Despite its proximity to the UAE and the supposed booming spending power of its burgeoning middle class, India recorded only a modest $141.3 million card spend.
That’s an increase of a mere 11.5 per cent on 2010 - something VISA attributed in part to the declining valuation of the rupee.