Middle East visitors integral to US$363 billion UK tourism growth

Middle East travellers are expected to play a key role in the UK’s continued tourism growth and this year, Britain is expected to see the biggest surge in tourism growth since the 2012 London Olympics. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the total contribution of travel and tourism to the United Kingdom is forecast to reach US$363.77 billion by 2026.

In 2015, the UAE set a new record for overseas consumer spending in the UK when receipts from 347,000 arrivals increased 12 per cent to reach US$608 million. This is expected to rise further due to a favourable low exchange rate following the 10 per cent fall of Sterling against the US Dollar. Tourism and hospitality are the fourth largest industry in the UK representing about 10 per cent of GDP. From January-April 2016, Middle East nationalities totaled 38 per cent of the UK tax-free spend expenditure, with a healthy 11 per cent growth. Nationals from Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia spent an average of US$1923, US$1663 and US$1570 respectively. Spend by UAE visitors to the UK in December 2016 reflected a growth of 33 per cent over the same month in 2015. VisitBritain has predicted that international inbound tourists could spend US$30 billion in 2017. Global arrival numbers to Britain are rising gradually and is expected to reach 38 million by the end of this year, recording a four per cent growth, year-on-year.