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 ten per cent on the same period in 2012, whilst spend increased by 11 per cent.
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 and Le Meridian in Jeddah.
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 per cent - among 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, while 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.