Tourism Boards

Visitors from GCC to UK rise by 6.6% in 2016

Dec 06 2017

According to the latest data released by Arabian Travel Market, (ATM), visitors to the UK from KSA, UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain totalled 659,466 in 2016, which is an increase of 6.6%, amounting to almost 5,000 more visitors than the previous year.

The UK welcomed over 350,000 visitors from the UAE; more than 150,000 from KSA; over 100,000 from Kuwait and just under 50,000 from Bahrain, which included nationals as well as expatriate residents.

Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM, said: “The average spent per trip to the UK by visitors from KSA, UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain, per person, ranged from $1,150 to $3,153 in 2016. With a choice of 32 weekly direct flights to the UK, visitors from Saudi Arabia alone spent $485 million in 2016; the highest average spends per visit of any of the UK’s source markets.

“Because GCC currencies are pegged to the US dollar, (Kuwait's dinar is pegged to a basket of currencies including the US Dollar and the Euro) outbound travellers from the GCC to the UK continue to take advantage of the dollar to sterling exchange rate. In June 2015, the UK pound was worth $1.59; today, it is around $1.33, a fall of over 16%.”

The report, which was conducted by ATM’s research partner Colliers International, confirmed London as the most popular destination in the UK, recording almost 3.5 million room nights, compared to 3.9 million for the rest of England, 321,000 in Scotland, 215,000 in Wales, and almost 12,500 in Northern Ireland, in 2016.

Keen to build on this growth, UK exhibitors already signed up for ATM 2018 include: current English Premier League champions Chelsea FC; AC Group, a leading supplier to the travel trade; the five-star family-run The Arch Hotel, in London; top children’s attraction, Kidzania; Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the international botanical research and education institute; national tourist board, VisitBritain; and luxury hotel operator, Macdonald Hotels and Resorts.

“The popularity of destination UK with GCC travellers is echoed by increasing numbers of UK travel professionals attending ATM. Industry professionals from the UK visiting ATM were up 10% in 2017 compared to the previous year, and we expect this number to keep rising, with 80% of stand space available to UK exhibitors already sold, five months out from the 2018 event.

“ATM provides the perfect platform for UK destinations, hotels and attractions, as well as tour operators and travel agents, especially as Middle East travellers will continue to play a key role in the UK’s tourism growth,” added Press.

The UK stand will be managed by UKinbound for the first time in 2018 and CEO, Deirdre Wells is eager to capitalise on their presence at the show, allowing UKinbound and its members an opportunity to strengthen existing partnerships and foster new relationships from the GCC and other key regional markets.

She said: “We know that outbound travel from GCC countries alone is expected to grow by over 80% in the next 10 years. As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, managing the UK stand at the show is part of our new Global Britain strategy to broaden our international market appeal and will provide a platform to showcase the wealth of tourist attractions in the UK.”