GCC sets a new record for tourism in Britain with 18% increase in visits and 9% increase in spend over 2014.

Monday 30 November -0001

29 May 2016 According to the International Passenger Survey (IPS) data provided by the Office for National Statistics, the tourism figures for GCC have broken records as 723,773 visited and £1.59bn spent in Britain in 2015.

Sumathi Ramanathan, Director Asia Pacific, Mid East & Africa comments: “Britain has been setting tourism records for the past decade. The GCC is one of the fastest growing markets in terms of visitor numbers and spend and Britain is firmly placed among the top three European destinations for tourism.’’

Out of all visits to Britain from the GCC, the UAE recorded the highest volume with 347,000 visits in 2015, (up 34%) on 2014. Saudi Arabia followed with 147,000 visitors (2%) increase on 2014, Kuwait with 104,000 visitors (up 3%) on 2014 and Qatar with 76,000 visitors (25%) increase on 2014.

In terms of spend; Saudi Arabia saw the biggest percentage increase in spend (52%) over 2014 - making the kingdom the highest spending market in the GCC with £556m. Spend growth from Qatar followed a similar pattern, with Qatar visits seeing a (25%) increase in spend on 2014.

VisitBritain has prioritized the GCC with multiyear campaigns, initiatives and activities to drive Britain’s visitor attraction programme under the Dunes to Britain series.

In 2015, VisitBritain launched the Great Britain GREAT Moments campaign in the GCC. The digital marketing campaign kicked off in July 2015 with a nine-month digital and social media programme that inspires people through snapshots and videos of special moments experienced by social media celebrities from the region. The aim was to encourage visitors to explore more of regional Britain and find their own amazing moments.

The second phase of the campaign launched in February 2016. This phase featured a partnership with Qatar Airways to drive conversion and provide promotional offers for travelers to fly into some of the Britain’s most exciting destinations including Manchester, Edinburgh, London and Birmingham route.

‘British tourism from the region reached new heights in 2015. It is thus critical for VisitBritain to continue to promote the destination in a way that fosters the continued growth of tourism from the region. 2016 calendar is packed with events, anniversaries and key dates that guarantee Britain will be on the top of the holiday wish lists this year! Lots of great holiday ideas and inspiration to keep our GCC audience coming back to Britain.’ added Ramanathan.

There are ever more reasons to visit Britain in 2016, including England's Year of the GREAT English Garden, Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, Wales' Year of Adventure, 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, , Film-inspired holidays and much more to keep your appetite.


For VisitBritain media inquiries: Yasmine Rashed: yasmine.rashed@visitbritain.org

Notes to editors:

The full-year visit and spend figures for January-December 2015 for individual markets within the GCC are as follows:

  • UAE: visit numbers from the United Arab Emirates were up 34% in 2015 to a record 347,000 with UAE visitors spending £487m (up 12%).

  • KSA: visit numbers from Saudi Arabia were up 2% in 2015 to a 147,000 with Saudi visitors spending a record £ 556m (up 52%)

  • Kuwait: visit numbers from Kuwait were up 3% in 2015 to a 104,000 with Kuwait visitors spending £302 m

  • Qatar: visit numbers from Qatar were up 28% in 2015 to a record 130,000 with Qatar visitors spending £163m (up 25%).

For more information contact:

VisitBritain Media Team


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