Tourists’ Visa card spend crosses $3b mark in UAE

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UAE tourism industry continues upward journey last year as tourists’ spending on their Visa cards jumped to $3.1 billion in 2010, a latest study finds.

New research from Visa, one of the world’s leading payment solutions providers, has signaled an impressive return to form across the breadth of the UAE tourism industry, with evidence of a three per cent year-on-year increase in arrivals to the Emirates in 2010  and over $3 billion spent compared to 2009.

“....Visa supports the tourism industry by providing payment systems which are trusted across the globe, helping to drive growth in international spend by giving visitors reassurance and confidence to use their cards whilst in the UAE,” Visa Middle East General Manager Kamran Siddiqi said in a statement.

Visa’s ‘Tourism Outlook: UAE’ report, based on tourism receipts from across the UAE in 2009 and 2010, provides a valuable insight into the spending habits of international visitors on their Visa debit and credit cards.

In addition to highlighting positive growth, the data also shows that as payment card acceptance continues to grow in the UAE, so too does the level of spending, with international Visa cardholders spending a massive $3.1 billion in a total of 12.8 million transactions in 2010 – a 20.3 and 21.7 per cent increase respectively on the previous year. 

Of the total spend on Visa cards by international visitors, $1.9 billion came from just 10 markets, with the British being the top spenders by far, contributing over $441.2 million towards the UAE economy on their Visa cards – almost 10 per cent more than in the previous year. They are followed by American and Russian visitors $302.9 and $238.1 million respectively. 

“As a result, Visa is uniquely placed to provide a valuable insight into where and how visitors are spending their money when they visit the UAE. We’re seeing a really positive sign that things are on the up and, with the country expected to see some of the world’s strongest inbound tourism growth over the next five years , the travel and tourism industry is set to enjoy a further cash boost from international visitors,” Siddiqi said.

 Visa’s data shows just how much the swell in visitor numbers has positively impacted on tourism, especially during November and December, when the temperate climate and end of year holidays make it the most popular time to travel to the UAE. In fact, the last two months of the year account for over a fifth of the total annual international spend on Visa cards (21.8 per cent).  

Merchants across the UAE are enjoying a much welcome boost, with department stores in particular reaping the benefits of increased international spending. They enjoyed an impressive 48.8 per cent increase in tourism receipts, thanks in a large part to travelers from Saudi Arabia, Russia and the UK.

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