Chinese are no longer the biggest spending tourists in the UK

For Middle Eastern visitors, Ramadan is a key shopping time on the calendar, and many visitors come to London to escape the heat back home.

Chinese are no longer the biggest spending tourists in the UK

For Middle Eastern visitors, Ramadan is a key shopping time on the calendar, and many visitors come to London to escape the heat back home.

Here is a tourism and shopping reality for the British Capital City: The Chinese are no longer the biggest spending tourists in the UK. According to Global Blue, the duty free shopping experts, the biggest spending tourists are from the Middle East. A recent survey by Visit Britain shows that tourists from the Middle East are twice as likely as typical visitors to buy clothes and shoes. Kuwaiti visitors have the highest propensity to buy these items, with Nigerians in second place, followed by Saudi Arabians, reported the Financial Times.

Visitors from the Middle East are forecast to increase their spending in the UK by 25 percent post-Ramadan, according to card processing firm Worldpay.

The start of Eid Al Fitr sees tourists from the region flock to the UK with Worldpay’s data showing that they are set to exceed by a quarter the £152.40 ($258.83) per transaction registered in August last year.

Last year, visitors from Qatar topped the list by spending an average of £288.17 on each trip to the till, the UK-based Retail Times reported.

This was followed by £199.87 spent by visitors from Saudi Arabia, £188.29 by UAE visitors and £189.41 by visitors from Bahrain.

In comparison, the average European tourist, making up the bulk of visitors to the UK, spent just £49 per sale in the same period last year, whilst US visitors spent £65.41.

Latest figures from Visit Britain shows the number of visitors from Gulf Cooperation Council countries from January to April this year was up 18 percent on the same period in 2013. Tourists from the UAE led the charge with 262,000 visitors in 2013, with Kuwait in second place with 110,000 visitors.

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Dave Hobday, managing director, Worldpay UK, said in comments published by Retail Times: “Britain has some of the best shopping in the world and retailers need to wake up to the fact that the biggest spenders all come from abroad. There’s a Middle Eastern gold rush underway and millions of pounds are at stake as tourists from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE flock to the UK to out-shop and outspend the rest.”

Worldpay processed a total of more than £73.2 million in payments from Middle Eastern shoppers in August 2013.

On average, a visit from Kuwait delivers 4,000 pounds to the UK economy and one from Qatar almost 3,000 pounds. By comparison, a French visitor will spend an average of 343 pounds.

Earlier this year Global Blue stated visitors from Russia saw a spending decline of 17 percent, as a result of the political crisis in the Ukraine and a subsequent drop in the value of the ruble.

For Middle Eastern visitors, Ramadan is a key shopping time in the calendar, and many visitors come to London to escape the heat back home.

Visit Britain found that while Middle Eastern visitors want cutting edge fashion, they are not as interested in buying British food and drink. In contrast, 34 percent of Belgians, 32 percent of French and 32 percent of Japanese visitors are most likely to buy British food and drink to take home.

Shopping in Harrods was chosen as a top activity by one in five respondents to the survey when asked to select their top three British dream holiday experiences.

Overall, international visitors spent 4.5 billion pounds in British shops in 2012, a quarter of total expenditure by foreign tourists that year.

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