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Visa cardholders spent $4.7 billion in the UAE in 2012

  • VisaVue Data shows total number of transactions went up by 20 per cent year on year
  • Saudi Arabia visitors spend $420 million on Visa cards in UAE in 2012

Visa_Logo_for_releaseDubai, May 6, 2013 – Visa cardholders spent $4.7 billion on their cards while visiting the UAE in 2012, a 17.1 per cent increase compared to the previous year, according to data issued by Visa Inc., the world’s largest electronic payments network.

The results collated by company’s VisaVue® Travel data service in its latest Tourism Outlook UAE report also indicated that the total number of transactions increased by 20 per cent year on year, reinforcing UAE’s strong reputation as a shopping destination for international tourists.

The top ten source markets – the United Kingdom, Russia, Saudi Arabia, United States, China, Qatar, Angola, Kuwait, India and France – accounted for 62.6 per cent of total tourism spend, according to the latest data.

The Visa Tourism Outlook UAE report was unveiled at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference [AHIC] 2013 – the Middle East’s annual meeting place for the region’s hotel investors, developers, operators and advisors, currently under way at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.

The data was presented by Mr. Marcello Baricordi, General Manager – UAE at Visa as part of his key address to hospitality and tourism experts during the conference.

“The UAE Tourism Outlook report is Visa’s commitment to contributing market intelligence to the global tourism industry. As the world’s largest payment solutions provider, we are in a unique position to provide insight into where and how visitors are spending their money. Turning our transaction data into useful business information is one way Visa delivers value to businesses and countries where tourism are strong growth indicators – this has increased relevance to the UAE, where tourism contributes nearly 6.6 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product[1],” said Mr. Baricordi.

The data revealed that the United Kingdom continues to be UAE’s top source market with British Visa cardholders spending $540.4 million on their Visa cards in 2012, up 10.4 per cent on the previous year. Russia came second with its visitors spending $444.6 million on their Visa cards, 29.8 per cent more in 2012.

Saudi Arabia jumped ahead of the US to take third spot in 2012, with its visitors spending $420.4 million on their Visa cards, an increase of 28.8 per cent, followed by tourists from the US and China. Qatar entered the top 10 league for the first time in 2012, experiencing a 56.9 per cent increase in tourism receipts from their Visa cards to $196.9 million.

During 2012, Visa cardholders spent $1.4 billion in the retail category [up 25.2 per cent], $75.3 million in restaurants [up 27.6 per cent], and $15.1 million in fast food restaurants [up 122 per cent]. Tourism receipts in accommodation category remained robust, with spending by Visa cardholders in the UAE reaching $1.1 billion [up 19.6 per cent over last year].

Categorizing the spend on seasonal tourism flow, the Visa cardholders recorded the highest value of tourism receipts in January [up 36 per cent to $485.1 million], November [up 6.6 per cent to $479.3 million] and December [up 13.5 per cent to $463.2 million].

Outbound travel also rose significantly during 2012, with Visa cardholders from the UAE spending $2.5 billion internationally in 2012, a 12.2 per cent jump year on year. The top five tourism destinations where UAE Visa cardholders spent the most were the UK [up 16.7 per cent to $402.3 million], the US [up 13.6 per cent to $273.4 million], Germany [up 16.3 per cent to $138.4 million], France [up 11.7 per cent to $124.7 million] and Saudi Arabia [up 26.6 per cent to $120.4 million].

Visa had last week unveiled its Global Travel Intentions Study 2013 which revealed that global cross-border tourism is thriving and global travellers intend to increase budgets for their next trip by an average of five per cent – with some holidaymakers even suggesting that they would more than double what they spent on their previous trip.

Launched in 2009, VisaVue® Travel Data is a service offered by Visa Inc. that provides government agencies, hotels, airlines and other organizations within the tourism industry unique insights into spending by international visitors. The data utilizes aggregate international cardholder spending on Visa debit, credit, commercial and prepaid cards to help the tourism industry to analyze the sector’s economic contribution and tailor marketing, promotional strategies and budgets based on up-to-date visiting spending information.


[1] World Travel & Tourism Council data

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