Record visits from GCC boost UK tourism

VisitBritain announced a significant increase in visits from the GCC market it has been heavily targeting

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Figures show that total visits from GCC countries to the United Kingdom were up by 10 percent and spending increased 11 percent during the first three quarters of 2013, according to VisitBritain, the British Tourism Authority.

The level of growth announced by the tourism board marked new records for the January and September periods, with just over one billion British pounds ($1.6 billion) spent during the 452,000 visits made by citizens of the six GCC countries of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar.

VisitBrain credits the rise to its heavy and strategic investments in marketing the country as a desirable destination across the GCC region as part of the GREAT campaign, a governmental initiative promoting tourism in the country.

Annique Labuschagne, Manager of the GCC Markets, said, “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 travelers from the GCC.”

The government announced its escalation of investment into the campaign on Dec. 5, 2013, pledging another 90 million pounds ($148.3 billion) over the next two years with 45 million pounds for each year, respectively.

The amount represents a significant increase over the current 30 million pound per year budget.

The project has most heavily targeted Saudi Arabia with VisitBritain predicting that by 2020 the vast Gulf country will have the highest projected value percentage growth at 181 percent.

Saudi Arabia also represents one of the top five most high spending markets in Britain, with an average spend per visit of 2,354 pounds ($3,875) while overall average of all visits to Britain is 600 pounds ($986) per visit.

The organization is attempting to build on its already existing 60 partnerships with travel agents across Saudi Arabia.

VisitBritain Mission Leader and Marketing Director Joss Croft said “We have ambitious growth targets which we are working tirelessly to achieve from across the GCC region.”

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