2.8mn UK residents to visit GCC by 2024; 22% rise

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As many as 2.8mn UK residents will travel to the GCC in 2024, an additional 500,000 travellers when compared to 2018 arrival figures, generating an estimated US$6.3bn tourism revenue. Oman is expected to welcome as many as 165,000 visitors by then.

Arrivals from the UK to the GCC will increase 22 per cent  over the period 2018 to 2024, driven by new and direct flight routes, competitive air fares and a growing number of leisure travellers, according to the latest data released ahead of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2020, which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 19-22, 2020. According to research carried out by Colliers International, on behalf of ATM, the number of ATM delegates, exhibitors and attendees interested in doing business with the UK increased five per cent between 2018 and 2019.

Danielle Curtis, exhibition director ME, ATM, said, “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 2.23mn visitors by 2024. Saudi Arabia will follow with 251,000 visitors, while Oman will welcome 165,000, Bahrain 159,000 and Kuwait 5,000.” UK tourists travelling to the GCC are expected to generate an estimated US$6.3bn in travel and tourism revenue by 2024, an increase of 34 per cent when compared with figures from 2018, according to the research data.

Building on this, total tourism spending in the GCC reached US$70.2bn last year, with the UK travellers average spending during trips to the region 27 per cent higher than the average spending of any other visitor.

In 2018 Bahrain witnessed the highest average spend per visit at US$3,298. Saudi Arabia followed with an average UK tourist spend per trip reaching US$2,047, very closely followed by the UAE at US$2,020 and Kuwait and Oman reaching US$1,077 and US$945 respectively. “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,” added Curtis.

“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.”

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