International visitors to the UAE spent a record $497 million during the Dubai Shopping Festival 2012 (DSF) period, a 22 per cent increase from the DSF period last year, according to statistics released by Visa. The month-long festival took place from January 5 to February 5 this year.
Interestingly, Visa found that cardholders from Russia were the biggest international spenders during the DSF this year; they shelled out around $122 million, up more than 356 per cent from $26.8 million in 2011.
According to Karim Beg, head of Regional Marketing for Visa MENA, it is difficult to determine whether more travellers visited from Russia or whether they just spent more this year. “But the sheer level of increase that we have seen in spending suggested it is likely to be a combination of both,” he said.
The next on the list were cardholders from Saudi Arabia, who also upped their spending by 170 per cent to $106 million this year. Spenders from the UK came third on the list, and were followed by cardholders from China, US, Angola, India, Kuwait, France and Kazakhstan.
According to the data, while average daily spend stood at $15.5 million, sales reached a peak on January 29 when they topped $20 million.
The most spent on category during the period was retail, including general merchandise, confectionery, clothing, music, jewelry, cameras, cosmetics etc, which saw a spend of more than $171 million.
Lodging (hotels and apartments) came in second place with over $112 million spent; remaining merchants; other travel and entertainment; and department stores completed the top five spending segments, said Visa.
“It’s great to see DSF 2012 having such a strong impact on the local economy, despite the current global financial challenges,” said Beg. “There are several reasons behind the growth of DSF, but a key driver is certainly the UAE’s increasing appeal as a tourist destination, helped by the significant infrastructure developments that have taken place in the UAE, which is catering to the growing number of arrivals,” he said.