UAE’s Travel & Tourism industry on top in Middle East

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Abu Dhabi: Travel and Tourism industry of the United Arab Emirates is on top of its counterparts in the Middle East region being the most advanced travel and tourism sector of the region.

By Farhan Iqbal

Abu Dhabi: Travel and Tourism industry of the United Arab Emirates is on top of its counterparts in the Middle East region being the most advanced travel and tourism sector of the region.

This was revealed in the report “Tourism Outlook: UAE” by VisaVue in which it has ranked the UAE’s Travel and Tourism industry No. 1 in the Middle East beating all other Arab countries in the same niche.

According to the report, 8.2 million overseas visitors sought out the UAE as a holiday destination in 2011, although this was 8.8 percent lower than the previous year’s nine million visitors.

The VisaVue Travel Data informed that international Visa account holders spent $4 billion on their cards, while in the UAE a 28.7 percent increase was indicated over 2010. It is vital to remember that despite the volatility in the Middle East due to the Arab Spring in 2011, which saw the number of tourists in the region as a whole drop by seven percent last year, the UAE emerged as a safe haven in the region and continued to attract international visitors.

In addition to strong tourist arrival figures, the UAE recorded its highest ever number of inbound and outbound flights in 2011 at 683,389 up 7.6 percent on the previous year.

Dubai International Airport recorded the highest air traffic movements within the UAE (312,009 in 2011), with December listed as its busiest month (28,229 air traffic movements).

The report uses actual Visa card spend data to aggregate information about visitors - where they are coming from, how much they are spending and what they are buying.

The General Manager of Visa in the UAE, Marcello Baricordi, stated, “Such information has helped us develop and refine several strategic partnerships with leading retailers such as the Jumeirah Group, Atlantis Resorts, Emirates and Visa's sponsorship of the iconic Dubai Shopping Festival [DSF] – a partnership that we have fostered for 16 years. As a staunch supporter of the UAE's tourism industry, Visa is committed to helping merchants, the government and other stakeholders promote the UAE as one of the best tourism and shopping destinations in the world.”

VisaVue Travel Data research during DSF 2012, showed the total inbound on Visa card spend in the UAE between January 5 and February 5 came to more than $497 million compared to just over $406 million during the DSF 2011 period (January 20 to February 20) - equal to a year-on-year increase of 22 percent.

As this year’s “Tourism Outlook: UAE” report shows, established source markets continue to lead the way in terms of spending in the UAE, although new markets are coming through, with significant growth in travellers coming from countries such as Angola and Saudi Arabia.

Baricordi said that, “Travellers from the UK top the list of international spenders for the second year, with expenditure growing by 11 percent year-on-year, from $441.2 million in 2010 to $489.5 million in 2011. This is a sure sign of the UAE’s popularity among Brits continuing to grow despite ongoing economic uncertainty.”

“The good news is that this trend is not exclusive to Russia, prominent new routes are opening on a regular basis to further expand the UAE’s international connections. We are seeing a number of routes into the likes of China and the US, making the UAE even more accessible than ever to international tourists. Whether it is for a short stop off or an extended stay, travellers cannot resist the UAE’s growing appeal as a destination,” he added.

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