Gulf visitors travelling to Britain in record numbers

Riyadh -Safari net

As VisitBritain hosts its annual GCC travel trade mission in Saudi Arabia for the first time this week, figures show that during the first three quarters of 2013, total visits from GCC countries to the UK were up by 10% on the same period in 2012, whilst spend increased by 11%.1


This level of growth resulted in visits and spend hitting new records for the January to September period, with just over £1 billion spent during 452,000 total visits from the six GCC countries – Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar.


VisitBritain’s GCC trade mission aims to build on this growth, providing UK suppliers with the opportunity to meet more than sixty travel agents from across Saudi Arabia to promote holiday destinations, tour packages and attractions from all over Britain, highlighting attractive deals available to GCC holidaymakers in the lead up to the long summer break and school holidays. Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum & Tour will be among the suppliers attending the mission and Britain’s strong retail offering will be showcased by Westfield UK and Bicester Village.


The mission will be held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh on 10 February and Le Meridian in Jeddah on 11 February.

VisitBritain has invested heavily in ongoing tactical marketing across the GCC region as part of the GREAT campaign. In December it signed a three-year, £2 million-pound partnership with Etihad Airways to facilitate joint marketing activities and worked together with the UK Embassy and British Council in Qatar to show case the collaborative work of UK and Qatari fashion designers for the 2013 Qatar-UK Fashion Exchange.

The most recent marketing activity in Saudi Arabia was a partnered experiential campaign with Qatar Airways held in shopping malls across the country throughout November and December last year to inspire consumers with the sights and sounds of Britain.

VisitBritain predicts that by 2020 Saudi Arabia will have the highest projected value percentage growth – 181% – amongst the twenty major and emerging markets in VisitBritain’s tourism strategy. It is also among the top five most high-spending markets for Britain, with an average spend per visit of £2,354, whilst the overall average for all visitors to Britain is £600 per visit.

Shopping, visiting parks and gardens and going to museums and galleries are three of the most popular activities for visitors from Saudi Arabia when in Britain, with green spaces and a moderate climate providing a unique opportunity to spend time relaxing outdoors.


VisitBritain Mission Leader and Marketing Director, Joss Croft, commented: “We have ambitious growth targets which we are working tirelessly to achieve from across the GCC region. We’ve already partnered and launched campaigns with the top three airlines – Emirates, Qatar and Etihad – and our trade missions allow us to facilitate relationships with the people who help us sell the best of Britain.”


Annique Labuschagne, Manager GCC Markets at VisitBritain, commented: “Britain is a tourism destination that offers experiences for every taste. From England to Scotland to Wales, we have a vast range of top attractions suitable for families, honeymooners and young travellers from the GCC. We are delighted to see more and more people from this region choose Britain as their holiday destination and are eager to explore the wealth of touristic attractions that are available across the country.” 

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