Americans, Brits and Russians are the biggest spenders in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), says credit card giant Visa.
Collectively, tourists from these three countries spent $1.2 billion through their Visa cards – or 29.3% of the total tourism spent in the country during 2011.
According to the latest Tourism Outlook: UAE report produced by Visa, international visitors spent a total of $4 billion on Visa cards in the UAE, up 28.7% compared to 2010.
Marcello Baricordi, General Manager, UAE, Visa, says the UAE is ranked first in the Middle East for having the most advanced travel and tourism sector. So it is no surprise that year after year millions of tourists select the country as a holiday destination.
Mr Baricordi says, “In 2011, 8.2 million overseas visitors sought out the UAE as a holiday destination. Although this was 8.8% lower than the previous year’s nine million visitors, it is important to note that the actual amount spent by those who visited the UAE in 2011 on Visa cards increased significantly over the previous year, indicating the quality of visitors that the UAE is attracting.
“It is also vital to remember that despite the volatility in the Middle East in the midst of the Arab Spring of 2011, which saw the number of tourists in the region as a whole drop by 7% in 2011, 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 also recorded its highest ever number of inbound and outbound flights in 2011 at 683,389, up 7.6% 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 UAE’s modern banking sector has played a major part in increasing the use of credit cards both by visitors and nationals alike. Multinational banks, such as HSBC, have built up extensive networks of ATMs, as well as offering excellent personal banking services. Although cash is still widely used for the majority of small daily transactions, the credit card from HSBC, Barclays and other UAE banks play an ever-growing part in major purchases, helped in no small measure by a myriad of credit card rewards and offers. The credit card market is as competitive in the UAE as it is in the USA, the UK or elsewhere.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the UAE is one of the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations. The country has all the right ingredients for an unforgettable holiday – sun, sand, sea, sports, unbeatable shopping, top-class hotels and restaurants, an intriguing traditional culture, and a safe and welcoming environment.
The UAE is warm and sunny in winter and hot and humid during the summer months. Winter daytime temperatures average a very pleasant 82°F (26°C), although nights can be relatively cool, between 54–59°F (12–15°C) on the coast, and less than 40°F (5°C) in the depths of the desert or high in the mountains.
A whole host of special events are held throughout the year making any visit a truly memorable occasion. One not to miss is the month-long Dubai Shopping Festival, held between January 3 and February 3.
The internationally acclaimed festival, now in its 18th year, offers one of the best shopping experiences anywhere in the world. But it’s not all shopping, far from it. There are also hundreds of events and activities on offer, too, from international concerts, musicals and shows, to sports and fashion events.
Photo Credit: Masaru Kamikura