· London top destination recording almost 3.5 million room nights
· Average spend of GCC travellers between $1,150 to $3,153 per trip
· 80% of stand space allocated for UK exhibitors at ATM 2018 already sold
Visitors to the UK from KSA, UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain totalled 659,466 in 2016, an increase of 6.6%, amounting to almost 5,000 more visitors than the previous year, according to data released by Arabian Travel Market, (ATM), which is being held at Dubai World Trade Centre from 22-25 April 2018.
The UK welcomed over 350,000 visitors from the UAE; more than 150,000 from KSA; over 100,000 from Kuwait and just under 50,000 from Bahrain, which included nationals as well as expatriate residents.
Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM, said: “The average spent per trip to the UK by visitors from KSA, UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain, per person, ranged from $1,150 to $3,153 in 2016. With a choice of 32 weekly direct flights to the UK, visitors from Saudi Arabia alone spent $485 million in 2016, the highest average spend per visit of any of the UK’s source markets.
“Because GCC currencies are pegged to the US dollar, (Kuwait's dinar is pegged to a basket of currencies including the US Dollar and the Euro) outbound travellers from the GCC to the UK continue to take advantage of the dollar to sterling exchange rate. In June 2015, the UK pound was worth $1.59, today it is around $1.33, a fall of over 16%.”
The report, which was conducted by ATM’s research partner Colliers International, confirmed London as the most popular destination in the UK, recording almost 3.5 million room nights, compared to 3.9 million for the rest of England, 321,000 in Scotland, 215,000 in Wales, and almost 12,500 in Northern Ireland, in 2016.
Keen to build on this growth, UK exhibitors already signed up for ATM 2018 include: current English Premier League champions Chelsea FC; AC Group, a leading supplier to the travel trade; the five-star family-run The Arch Hotel, in London; top children’s attraction, Kidzania; Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the international botanical research and education institute; national tourist board, VisitBritain; and luxury hotel operator, Macdonald Hotels and Resorts.
“The popularity of destination UK with GCC travellers is echoed by increasing numbers of UK travel professionals attending ATM. Industry professionals from the UK visiting ATM were up 10% in 2017 compared to the previous year and we expect this number to keep rising, with 80% of stand space available to UK exhibitors already sold, five months out from the 2018 event.
“ATM provides the perfect platform for UK destinations, hotels and attractions, as well as tour operators and travel agents, especially as Middle East travellers will continue to play a key role in the UK’s tourism growth,” added Press.
The UK stand will be managed by UKinbound for the first time in 2018 and CEO, Deirdre Wells is eager to capitalise on their presence at the show, allowing UKinbound and its members an opportunity to strengthen existing partnerships and foster new relationships from the GCC and other key regional markets.
She said: “We know that outbound travel from GCC countries alone is expected to grow by over 80% in the next 10 years. As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, managing the UK stand at the show is part of our new Global Britain strategy to broaden our international market appeal and will provide a platform to showcase the wealth of tourism attractions in the UK.”
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was GBP209bn, 10.8% of GDP in 2016, and is forecast to rise by 2.2% in 2017, and to rise by 2.3% pa to GBP268.4bn, 11.4% of GDP in 2027, by which time international tourist arrivals are forecast to reach over 54 million generating expenditure of GBP42bn, an increase of 3.8% pa.
ATM 2018 has adopted Responsible Tourism as its main theme and this will be integrated across all show verticals and activities, including focused seminar sessions.
Celebrating its 25th year, ATM 2018 will build on the success of this year’s edition, with a host of seminar sessions looking back over the last 25 years and how the hospitality industry in the MENA region is expected to shape up over the next 25.
ATM – considered by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, welcomed almost 40,000 travel professionals to its 2017 event, including 2,661 exhibiting companies, signing business deals worth more than $2.5 billion over the four-day show.