The leading global payments technology company, Visa Inc., has unveiled the results of its latest Affluent Study report on the first day of ATM 2014, with a growth in spend by both inbound and outbound cardholders contributing to the global tourism economy.
Over 300 credit card holders in the UAE took part in the study, with over 130 respondents managing household incomes between Dhs200,000 and Dhs300,000 per annum, and more than 170 of those surveyed respondents responsible for incomes in excess of Dhs300,000 per annum.
“UAE Visa cardholders spent $2.8bn overseas in 2013, almost 20% rise on 2012 figures, with Italy proving to be a popular destination and accounting for 36% increase in spend, followed by France, the UK and US at 24%, 23% and 22% respectively,” said Marcello Baricordi, General Manager UAE and Global Accounts Lead at Visa MENA. The UAE’s Affluent Index for 2014 has also increased to 130 from 125 in 2013, surpassing Hong Kong at 122 and Singapore at 118, reflecting a generally positive outlook for the affluent in the region. “This travel savvy, high-spending segment of the Visa market are tourism trendsetters and their behaviour is a barometer for market performance in general,” added Marcello.
“Three out of four of the UAE’s Affluent customers are regularly setting aside more than 60% of their monthly household income specifically for family travel, and 50% of our survey respondents expect this to rise further in the next 12 months,” he further added.
Destinations proving particularly popular with UAE Affluent travellers include India, the US, Turkey, the Maldives and France. According to extensive market research conducted by the company prior to the 2013 launch of its travel-focused Visa Signature card, 62% of upper affluent customers travel within the region, with 50% choosing to stay at five-star hotels, while 95% travel internationally for both business and pleasure.
“Looking at the inbound market, international Visa cardholders spent $5.5bn in the UAE in 2013, which represents 18% year-on-year growth, with Saudis contributing 40% to inbound spend followed by Qataris with 20%. We are also seeing continued demand and resulting spend from Russia and China, with Russians spending the most per transaction at US$337,” remarked Baricordi.
The UK continues to be the largest corridor for inbound tourism spend, but Saudi Arabia is showing the fastest growth, up by 33% on 2013 figures, while Angola is leading Africa market interest, up by 14% year-on-year. In response to the affluent category, Visa launched in February 2013 its exclusive carefully designed Visa Signature premium card which comes packed with unique travel related benefits, which are not just commensurate with the segment, but also meet the customer’s needs during the various phases of travel i.e. planning, booking, travel and at destination.
“The VISA Affluent Study was highly topical and complemented our ‘spotlight on luxury’ theme as well as its relevance to the Middle East hospitality sector,” said Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions the organiser of ATM.
The study revealed that accommodation accounts for 24% of total inbound spend while fashion retail scoops 14% and luxury retail 11%. The UAE’s duty free outlets also benefit with 7% of inbound spend and restaurant dining netting just 3%.
“The booming retail landscape in the UAE is a major tourism driver and with mall floor space set to grow even further, and high-end brands targeting prime locations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for regional expansion, this will only continue to add value to the tourism offering,” said Baricordi.
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