By Alicia Buller
Visitors from the GCC are some of the UK's highest spenders, spending on average four times the average for all markets
The UK welcomed a record volume of GCC visitors in the first quarter of 2018, the latest figures show.
There were a record 161,000 visits to Britain from the region in Q1 this year, up two percent on the same period last year, according to the UK tourism board VisitBritain.
The figures showed that GCC visitors spent a total of £358 million ($468m) in the UK in the first quarter of 2018, up 11 percent on the same period in 2017.
Visitors from the GCC are some of the UK’s highest spenders, spending on average £2,733 ($3,500) per visit, more than four times the average for all markets (£625/$800).
GCC visitors also stay longer than most international visitors, with an average length of stay of about 15 nights, compared to an average of seven nights for all markets.
VisitBritain is working with partners across the GCC, including WeGo and Etihad Airways, to amplify its marketing reach and convert the aspiration to visit the UK into bookings, and to showcase how accessible regional Britain is for visitors from the GCC.
The tourism board is also aiming to inspire visitors from the GCC to visit the UK through its ‘Find Your Great Britain, I Travel For…’ digital campaign launched earlier this year. The campaign uses short films and story-telling to shine the spotlight on unexpected experiences and less-explored destinations in Britain, alongside its more well known attractions
VisitBritain APMEA interim director Tricia Warwick told Arabian Business: “Britain’s attractions, hotels, shops and luxury goods are all offering great value right now, making it an attractive choice for visitors from the GCC who already rate the UK as a top destination.”
Warwick added: “The GCC is a very important market for VisitBritain and we want to build on the strong growth we have seen. We want Britain to be the must-go-now destination for travellers from the GCC and we are working with our partners including tour operators and airlines to deliver a world-class visitor experience, converting the aspiration to visit into bookings and making it easier to explore more of the country.”
VisitBritain reported a record 812,000 visits from the GCC to the UK in total in 2017, up five per cent on the previous year, with visitors spending £2.2 billion, up 55 per cent on 2016.