Muscat: 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 airfares 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, as many as 2.8 million UK residents will travel to the GCC in 2024, an additional 500,000 travellers when compared to 2018 arrival figures.
Adding to this, figures from ATM 2019 show the number of delegates, exhibitors and attendees interested in doing business with the UK increased by 5 per cent.
Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, 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 2.23 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.”
UK tourists travelling to the GCC are expected to generate an estimated US$6.3 billion 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 spends in the GCC, reached $70.2 billion last year, with the 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 followed with an average UK tourist spend per trip reaching $2,047, very closely followed by the UAE at $2,020 and Kuwait and Oman reaching $1,077 and $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.
ATM 2020 will welcome an array of UK exhibitors to the show, with names such as Visit BritainShop, Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, Chelsea FC, Lancaster Landmark Hotel Group, Blenheim Palace and Historic Royal Palaces, to name a few.
“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,” said Curtis.
ATM, considered by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, welcomed almost 40,000 people to its 2019 event with representation from 150 countries. With over 100 exhibitors making their debut, ATM 2019 showcased the largest ever exhibition from Asia.
Adopting Events for Tourism Growth as the official show theme, ATM 2020 will build on the success of this year’s edition with a host of seminar sessions discussing the impact events have on tourism growth in the region while inspiring the travel and hospitality industry about the next generation of events.