By Andy Sambidge
Cardholders spend 17% more in the UAE; UK visitors top the list with $540m spending
Visa cardholders spent $4.7bn on their cards while visiting the UAE in 2012, a 17.1 percent increase compared to the previous year, according to data issued by Visa Inc.
The results in Visa's latest Tourism Outlook UAE report also indicated that the total number of transactions increased by 20 percent year on year, reinforcing UAE's strong reputation as a shopping destination for international tourists.
The top ten source markets accounted for 62.6 percent of total tourism spend, according to the data.
The data revealed that the United Kingdom continues to be UAE's top source market with British Visa cardholders spending $540.4m on their Visa cards in 2012, up 10.4 percent.
Russia came second with its visitors spending $444.6m, 29.8 percent more in 2012.
Saudi Arabia jumped ahead of the US to take third spot in 2012, with its visitors spending $420.4m on their Visa cards, an increase of 28.8 percent, followed by tourists from the US and China.
Qatar entered the top 10 league for the first time in 2012, experiencing a 56.9 percent increase in tourism receipts to $196.9m.
During 2012, Visa cardholders spent $1.4bn in the retail category (up 25.2 percent), $75.3m in restaurants (up 27.6 percent), and $15.1m in fast food restaurants (up 122 percent).
Tourism receipts in accommodation category remained robust, with spending by Visa cardholders in the UAE reaching $1.1bn, up 19.6 percent.
Visa cardholders recorded the highest value of tourism receipts in January, November and December, the data showed.
Outbound travel also rose significantly during 2012, with Visa cardholders from the UAE spending $2.5bn internationally in 2012, a 12.2 percent jump year on year.
The top five tourism destinations where UAE Visa cardholders spent the most were the UK, the US, Germany, France and Saudi Arabia.