UK tourism businesses feel more needs to be done to attract visitors from the Gulf states, our research has revealed.
Leading travel trade association UK Inbound has produced its latest Business Barometer, based on our survey of its members.
In light of its inaugural exhibition at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) next week, the results focused on the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) market.
To encourage visitors from GCC countries to explore more of the UK, 75% of respondents stated that increased marketing in these countries is key.
A further 62% of respondents also said that increasing the number of direct flights to UK regional airports from destinations across the GCC would boost visitor numbers.
Additionally, the creation of culturally sensitive itineraries, improved UK train links and better signage were cited as important factors that could encourage more GCC visitors to come to the UK.
A valuable market
UKinbound’s chief executive officer Deirdre Wells said: “Visitors from the GCC countries to the UK in 2016 ranked 15th in terms of numbers (777,000) but third in terms of overall spending (£1.4 billion)*.
“This is clearly a valuable market with lots of potential that our members are keen to tap into.
“Exhibiting at ATM is therefore an important strategic step for UKinbound and will help our members and other stand sharers to showcase their businesses and secure new opportunities in a growing and emerging market.
“We will also continue to lobby Government on issues such as increasing marketing spend, visas and APD, to ensure that the UK remains a first choice for our international tourists and an attractive business and leisure destination.”
The Business Barometer results also reported that 56% of respondents have seen an increase in overall bookings/visitor numbers/customer orders in January and February 2018 compared to 2017.
Similarly, yield was the same or higher for 73% of members during the same period. However, confidence levels experienced a slight dip with 52% of members stating their 12-month business outlook was positive, down from 54%.
UKinbound will be exhibiting at the Arabian Travel Market in the European Hall (stand EU6830) in Dubai from Sunday 22nd April to Wednesday 25th April 2018.
* Source: Visit Britain