US and Gulf visitors biggest spenders, say UKinbound and VisitBritain

Visitors from the USA and Gulf states spend the most of all visitors to the UK, according to new research.

The data are revealed in major new research into the spending habits of UK inbound visitors by UKinbound and VisitBritain tourism board.

While the USA dominates total UK inbound market spend, Gulf state visitors are the most lucrative individuals, with all six GCC markets in the top 10 for highest spend per visitor. Qatar and Kuwait lead the way in first and second position, respectively.

Other headlines from the research reveal that visitors from the Nordics, Benelux countries, USA, Italy and Spain rank eating out highly, with their restaurant spend, as a proportion of total spend, significantly higher than the global average.

Visitors from Denmark, South Korea and Israel, meanwhile, spend significantly more on live entertainment than average.

The biggest spenders on UK products are visitors from China, Hong Kong and Thailand, with retail accounting for over half of the value of all transactions made by these visitors.

Latin American visitors rank above average for spending more on enjoying the UK’s tourist attractions and exhibitions.

According to the International Passenger Survey, over 37.6m people visited the UK in 2016 (a 4% increase on 2015), spending £22.5bn (an increase of 2%).

Other data from the tourism board shows that spending peaked in July and August with overall spending in the second half of 2016 higher than in the first half, as the exchange rate remained favourable for inbound visitors.

UKinbound’s chief executive officer, Deirdre Wells OBE, said: “We are delighted to present these results alongside industry partner VisitBritain. The findings provide a valuable insight regarding inbound visitors’ spending habits and provide further evidence of the incredible contribution that tourism makes to the UK economy. Further understanding our visitors will allow our members to tailor their itineraries, products and services, ensuring the UK remains a world class tourism destination.”

John Glen, minister for arts, heritage and tourism said: “The money tourists spend goes into our local communities, creates jobs and helps preserve our world class heritage sites. These findings will increase our understanding of just what visitors to the UK spend their money on and will help the tourism sector ensure their offer is as strong as possible. The UK tourism industry is enjoying a good period of growth and I will do all I can to help that continue.”

VisitBritain’s chief executive officer, Sally Balcombe added: “We want Britain to be top of people’s list as a ‘must-go now’ destination. Understanding more about what our visitors want, and getting a fast read out of where they spend their money, will ensure we get the right products to them at the right time. The insights from this type of research are invaluable for the industry and crucial for us staying a competitive travel destination.”

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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