UKinbound members say that more marketing to Gulf countries is essential if the UK trade is to tap into this growing and lucrative market.
According to the latest Business Barometer survey from UKinbound, 75% of respondents said that increased marketing to the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) market is key to attracting more visitors to the UK.
The survey asked questions about the GCC market because UKinbound will be managing the UK stand for the first time at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai (April 22-25).
Other strategies highlighted by members in the barometer include increasing the number of direct flights to UK regional airports from the Gulf – cited by 62% of respondents.
Respondents also suggested culturally sensitive itineraries; improved UK train links; and better signage as important moves which could encourage more GCC visitors.
Deirdre Wells, UKinbound’s chief executive, said: “Visitors from the GCC countries to the UK in 2016 ranked 15th in terms of numbers (777,000) but third in terms of overall spending (£1.4 billion).
“This is clearly a valuable market with lots of potential that our members are keen to tap into.
“Exhibiting at ATM is therefore an important strategic step for UKinbound and will help our members and other stand-sharers to showcase their businesses and secure new opportunities in a growing and emerging market.
“We will also continue to lobby government on issues such as increasing marketing spend, visas and Air Passenger Duty (APD), to ensure that the UK remains a first choice for our international tourists and an attractive business and leisure destination.”
The Business Barometer also reported that 56% of respondents have seen an increase in overall bookings/visitor numbers/customer orders in January and February 2018 compared to 2017.
Similarly, yield was the same or higher for 73% of members during the same period. However, confidence levels experienced a slight dip, with 52% of members stating their 12-month business outlook was positive, down from 54%.
• UKinbound will be exhibiting at the Arabian Travel Market in the European Hall (stand EU6830) in Dubai.
Pictured is ATM 2017, with Wells taking part in a panel debate.