UK arrivals to the GCC expected to significantly rise

Arabian Travel Market

According to data released ahead of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2020, arrivals from the UK to the GCC are expected to increase 22 per cent from now until 2024, due to new and direct flight routes, competitive air fares and a rising number of leisure travellers.

Colliers International’s research reported that as many as 2.8 million UK residents will travel to the GCC in 2024, which represents an additional 500,000 travellers when compared to 2018 arrival figures.

Meanwhile, data from ATM 2019 has highlighted that the number of delegates, exhibitors and attendees interested in doing business with the UK increased by five per cent.

IMEX Frankfurt 2020

Exhibition director – Middle East, Arabian Travel Market, Danielle Curtis declared: “Historically, the UK and the GCC have enjoyed excellent travel and tourism links and this trend is set to continue over the next four years despite the economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the bleak pound to dollar exchange rate, in which sterling has declined 18.9 per cent since June 19, 2015.

“However, the UAE is expected to continue to be the preferred GCC destination for British tourists, welcoming a projected 2.23 million visitors by 2023. Saudi Arabia will follow with 251,000 visitors, while Oman will welcome 165,000, Bahrain 159,000 and Kuwait 5,000,” Curtis added.

UK tourists travelling to the GCC are expected to generate an estimated $6.3 billion in travel and tourism revenue by 2024, a 34 per cent jump on 2018 figures. Building on this, total tourism spend in the GCC reached $70.2 billion last year, with UK travellers’ average spend during trips to the region 27 per cent higher than the average spend of any other visitor.

In 2018, Bahrain witnessed the highest average spend per visit at $3,298. Saudi Arabia came in second with an average UK tourist spend per trip reaching $2,047, closely followed by the UAE at $2,020 and Kuwait and Oman – $1,077 and $945 respectively.

Curtis said: “The UK, as a consistent and key top source market for the GCC, continues to present significant growth potential for travel and tourism revenue across the region. In return the GCC, UAE and Dubai in particular, besides being a commercial hub, offers year-round sunshine, unique travel experiences, world-class hotels and resorts and fast-paced leisure facilities and amenities.”

The next edition of ATM is due to welcome a wide variety of UK exhibitors, including Visit Britain Shop, Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, Chelsea FC, Lancaster Landmark Hotel Group, Blenheim Palace and Historic Royal Palaces, plus many more.

“But it is not just about inbound tourism to the GCC, ATM provides a perfect platform for UK destinations, hotels, attractions, tour operators and travel agents, to market their proposition to Middle East’s outbound operators and travel professionals, who continue to play a key role in the UK’s tourism industry,” Curtis concluded.