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Visitor spending in UAE soars to $6.21bln

International tourist spending continues its upwards trend in the UAE as visitors spent Dh22.8 billion with their Visa cards while visiting the country last year as compared to Dh21.7 billion in the previous year, with Saudi Arabia, the US and the UK becoming the largest spenders. According to the latest UAE Travel Snapshot released by Visa on Monday, total spend by inbound Saudi tourists increased by nine per cent year-on-year basis to Dh4.8 billion from Dh4.4 billion, followed by Dh2.4 billion by US visitors and Dh2 billion from the UK tourists. The other countries in the top 10 markets were China (Dh1.3 billion), Russia (Dh1.2 billion), Kuwait (Dh1.1 billion), India (Dh1 billion), Oman (Dh856 million), Bahrain (Dh371 million) and Australia (Dh364 million).

Total number of Visa card transactions by visitors to the UAE also grew by 22 per cent when compared to the previous year.

"Transactions growing much faster than spend suggests the UAE's increasing appeal as a leading global destination for both mass and niche tourism. The UAE dirham being pegged to the US dollar, which saw strong performance in most of 2018, made the UAE more expensive for international travellers during the period we looked at for this report.

Despite this, the UAE remained an attractive tourist destination for international travellers," said Shahebaz Khan, general manager for UAE, Visa.

In 2018, with 15.8 million people visited Dubai and the emirate was declared as the 6th most visited city while the UAE capital attracted more than 10 million visitors.

Spending by Russian visitors saw the fastest growth at 13 per cent followed by Saudi Arabia (+9 per cent), the US (+7 per cent), China, India and Australia (+6 per cent), the UK (+4 per cent), and Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain (+3 per cent). Visa card holders spent about Dh9.2 billion on travel, Dh3.8 billion on fashion, apparel and accessories, Dh2 billion on luxury goods, Dh1.8 billion on restaurants, and Dh959 million on leisure and entertainment.

Data disclosed that restaurant spending saw the highest growth of 30 per cent while spend on airlines, apparels and accessories grew nine per cent. The luxury goods sector saw a decrease of 10 per cent while leisure and entertainment remained flat.While the top 10 outbound spending markets by the UAE visitors were the UK, the US, Ireland, France, India, Netherlands, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus and Italy.

The UAE visitors spent Dh5.1 billion to the UK; Dh3.2 billion in the US; Dh1.1 billion in Ireland; Dh1 billion in France; and Dh771 million in India. 

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