British tourists top list for UAE spending

Visa research shows total amount spent by Brits last year rose 9.8 percent
British tourists top list for UAE spending
The Burj Al Arab is seen in a general view of atmosphere ahead of the 7th Annual Dubai International Film Festival held at the Madinat Jumeriah Complex on December 12, 2010 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Getty Images)
By Claire Ferris-Lay
Sun 14 Aug 2011 11:04 AM

British tourists to the UAE spent 9.8 percent more on their Visa cards in 2010 compared to the previous year, topping the list for the most amount spent by visitors, a new report by Visa has said.

British tourists charged $441.2m to their Visa cards last year, followed by US visitors who increased their spending by 0.3 percent to $301.9m. Overall international Visa cardholders spent $3.1bn, a 20.3 percent increase compared to the previous year.

The increase in spending is expected to have a significant impact on the country’s tourism industry, said Visa.

“We’re seeing a really positive sign that things are on the up and, with the country expected to see some of the world’s strongest inbound tourism growth over the next five years, the travel and tourism industry is set to enjoy a further cash boost from international visitors,” Kamran Siddiqi, general manager at Visa Middle East, said in a statement.

The UAE has spent billions building itself as an international destination as it looks to diversify its economy away from oil. While the number of visitors dropped amid the global economic downturn, figures have been increasing for some time.

The number of arrivals to the country increased three percent in 2010, according to Euromonitor International.

The majority spent on Visa cards during 2010 came from ten source markets, Visa noted. Russian tourists ranked the third biggest spenders in the UAE, charging a total of $238.1m to their Visa cards followed by visitors from Saudi Arabia who spent $146.1m, an increase of 28.6 percent compared to the previous year.

Visa data showed tourists spent the most during the cooler months of November and December. November sales on Visa cards totaled $288.4m while spending in December increased 25.5 percent to $259.3m.

“In the last two months of the year account for over a fifth of the total annual international spend on Visa cards (21.8 percent),” said the report.

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