LONDON: HISHAM MAHMOD
Published — Tuesday 27 August 2013
Last update 29 August 2013 7:54 am
Initial estimates on foreign tourist purchases in London during this summer season are estimated to be worth £4 billion. Official statistics have not yet been disclosed.
The contribution of Arab citizens to this figure is estimated to be worth £1.3 billion, says the British Commercial Association.
The average spending of a Saudi tourist reached about £2,487, followed by that of the UAE at £2,395, then Kuwait at £1965 per head and Russia and Singapore at £1169 and £980 per head.
There has been a 36-percent increase in sales due to the contribution of Arab tourism in London. This is translated to a 13.5-percent increase in employment rates.
The positive effects of Arab tourism in the UK are not confined to the huge revenues reaped by shops and businesses as a result of Arab procurement, but also contributed to the revival of the hospitality sector as well.
Simon Jack, public relations officer at The Leonard Hotel Marble Arch in central London, said that GCC tourists, in particular those coming from Saudi Arabia and UAE, as well as Libya, spend long periods in London during the summer.
Jack said, “Some families spend more than three consecutive months sometimes.”
The phenomenon has prompted many hotels to offer services in the Arabic language and allocate spaces for prayers. London-bound Gulf tourism has raised rates of hotel occupancy.
Jack said: “Last year, estimates indicated that Saudis alone spent £78 million on hotel stays in London. They are expected to spend between £93 and £101 million this year.”
Most GCC tourists prefer to stay in apartments in central London. “This offers them more privacy and allows big and extended families to rationalize in expenditure,” he said.
Amid the huge spending by GCC tourist, the British government stands out as one of the biggest beneficiaries of these financial returns via the many channels available, mainly through taxes.
Peter Dey, tax expert at HM Revenue and Customs Department, said that tax benefits from GCC tourists to the British economy are categorized into several categorizes.
Dey said: “There is always this competition between Gulf and Russian tourists on who spends more during the season.
“But tourists coming from Russia, Hong Kong and Singapore are keen on restoring what they have paid in taxes as soon as they leave London because they are entitled to regain the proportion of taxes they paid while shopping according to the British law, unlike GCC tourists who often don’t bother to keep their invoices.”