International visitors to the UAE spent $4 billion on their Visa cards in 2011, up 28.7 per cent year on year, according to the latest research released by the payment provider.
Transaction volumes increased 22.7 per cent to 15.6 million, while the average transaction size rose 4.8 per cent to $255.42, said Visa.
The top ten source markets remained the same as the previous year, collectively spending $2.4 billion – 33 per cent higher than in 2010.
1. United Kingdom
Visitors from the United Kingdom retained their top spot from 2010, spending $489.5 million in the UAE last year, up 11 per cent year-on-year.
The number of transactions made on Visa cards by British tourists also increased 9.5 per cent from 2010 to 2.2 million.
Despite a rise in the number of transactions and amounts, the average spend per transaction was only marginally higher than last year – $215 in 2011 versus $212 in 2010.
In terms of category spend, significant increases were seen in quick serve restaurants, airlines and discount stores.
Russia moved up one place on the list to occupy second place, with visitors spending $342.5 million, up 43.9 per cent on the 2010 figure.
Russian visitors spent the most in the ‘other’ retail category followed by the remaining merchants sector and accommodation.
The total number of transactions increased 49.3 per cent to 801,741 and the average transaction size was 3.6 per cent lower at $427.26.
3. United States
Visitors from the US spent $340.2 million on their Visa cards in the UAE last year, up 11.5 per cent year on year. The bulk of receipts were registered on accommodation, which increased 19.9 per cent to $98.5 million.
The number of transactions also increased 11.5 per cent to 1.8 million, with the average transaction size rising 0.7 per cent to $188.31.
4. Saudi Arabia
The biggest spenders from the region, visitors from Saudi Arabia remain an important contributor to the UAE’s tourism industry. They spent $326.3 million last year, up 73.8 per cent from 2010.
For Saudi visitors, spending was highest on accommodation, up 80.1 per cent to $127 million, followed by the ‘other’ retail category and the other travel and entertainment segment.
Total number of transaction rose 80.2 per cent to 1.1 million, while average transaction size dipped 3.6 per cent to $292.26.
Tourists from China spent $225.1 million on their Visa cards in the UAE in 2011, up 72.6 per cent year on year. Similar to their Russian counterparts, Chinese visitors spent the most in the ‘other’ retail category, in the ‘other’ travel and entertainment segment and on accommodation.
Average volume of transactions went up 29.1 per cent to $700.48.
Angola saw the most impressive growth in spend, with visitors spending $166.1 million last year, up 89.1 per cent since 2010.
Receipts were highest in the remaining merchants category, in the other retail category and in radio TV and stereo stores.
Total number of transactions increased a whopping 122.5 per cent year on year to 364,239. However, the average transaction size declined 15 per cent to $456.01.
Visitors from Kuwait spent $148.1 million in 2011, up 50.8 per cent year on year. Other retail topped the merchant category list, followed by accommodation and the other travel and entertainment’ category.
Average transaction sizes were up 8.9 per cent to $285.77.
Visa accounts holders from India spent a total of $141.3 million in the UAE last year, up 11.5 per cent from 2010. Transaction volumes also rose 19.5 per cent to 726,275.
As with most of the other markets, spend was highest in the remaining merchants category, the other retail category and the other travel and entertainment segment.
The average transaction size was 6.7 per cent lower at $194.50.
French tourists spent a total of $134.1 million in the UAE last year, 14.9 per cent higher than 2010. Spending was highest on accommodation, which was up 19.4 per cent to $42.8 million.
The total number of transactions were 15.4 per cent higher at 591,819, yet the average transaction size was 0.4 per cent lower at $226.56.
Rounding off the top ten source markets was Kazakhstan, with tourists increasing their spending by 31.5 per cent to $133.1 million. Receipts were highest in the remaining merchants segment, up 48 per cent, in the ‘other’ retail category and on accommodation.
Transaction volumes were 31.5 per cent higher at 236,874, while the average transaction size was 8.4 per cent higher at $561.97.