GCC tourists to spend $100bn by 2018: Report

Poll reveals that majority of the respondents (42 per cent) will give the lost valuables to police and not accept any reward for it. (File)

Outbound expenditure by GCC tourists is expected to jump to Dh367 billion ($100bn) over the next couple of years, according to a Research and Markets study.

Titled "Source Market Insights: GCC", the report said Gulf nationals are big spenders when abroad. In 2013, they spent over $65 billion on outbound expenditure but this is set to increase to over $100 billion by 2018, an increase of nearly 54 per cent.

Thanks to availability of low-cost carriers, GCC tourists are now traveling more than ever with the increased LCC flights availability, it said.

Trips within the GCC are likely to increase because the GCC will soon introduce a Schengen-style, unified visa for tourists and businessmen from 35 foreign and Arab countries.

Nationals from these countries will be able to visit the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman under a single visa once the system is finalised and implemented.

The GCC's outbound market saw impressive growth over the last few years, with over 37 million outbound made in 2013, with Saudi Arabia leading the way with up to 21 million trips between 2012-13.

Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE continue to be the main source markets for GCC tourists in 2013.

In order to cash in on the UAE’s status as a shopping paradise, the report said that shopping is the main activity for GCC nationals in the UAE, while religious tourism in the form of the Hajj pilgrimage is the main activity for visitors to Saudi Arabia.

However, increasing disposable income has led to the rise of the UK and Germany as leading outbound destinations among wealthy Emirati nationals keen to spend in European retail outlets.

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