Visitor characteristics

  • There were more male than female visitors in each journey purpose categories in 2015, except when visiting friends and relatives
  • Most visitors from the UAE are between 25 and 54; there are very few 65+ Emiratis visiting Britain
  • 76% of all holiday visitors from the UAE (excluding British expats) are making a repeat visit to Britain (within 10 years)
  • 51% of visitors are British nationals while only 14% are Emiratis
  • Over 75% of departing UAE visitors say they are ‘extremely likely’ to recommend Britain for a holiday or short-break, which is above the all market average of 69%

Popular activities

Sightseeing of Famous Buildings/ Monuments

Visited Parks/ Gardens

Went Shopping

Global context

International tourism expenditure (US$bn)15.1
Global rank for international tourism expenditure22
Number of outbound visits (m)3.3
Most visited destinationSaudi Arabia
Most visited destination in Western EuropeUnited Kingdom

Key demographic and economic data

Population (m)9.2
GDP per capita (US$)40,439
Annual average GDP growth over past decade (%)3.6
Annual average GDP growth in the past year (%)3.8

Inbound visits to Britain

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Seasonality (Share of visits)

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Regional spread (Share of visits)

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Access to Britain from the UAE

Weekly aircraft departures221
Weekly seat capacity91,473
Airports with direct routes in the United Arab Emirates2
Airports with direct routes in Britain7
  • Two airports in the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports) serve up to 7 airports in the UK with an average of 221 flights representing a total 91,473 seats per week*
  • Departing visitors heading home to the UAE currently pay £73 in Air Passenger Duty if travelling in economy class
  • Visitors from the UAE require a visa to visit Britain, with a six-month visa currently costing £87 or for an Electronic Visa Waiver for £15 to visit Britain


*2016 data

What Emiratis think about Britain

  • Key holiday ‘wants’ include ‘enjoy the beauty of the landscape’, ‘have fun and laughter’ and ‘good value for money’ with Italy seen as the ‘best place’ for delivering the former two and the US for the latter
  • Factors that are low on the holiday wish-list include ‘get some sun’ and ‘watch a sporting event’
  • Britain rates well for ‘see world famous sites’ and ‘visit a place with lots of history’ but not as favourably as Italy

Caring for visitors

  • English is widely spoken and understood
  • Arab families like to have hotel suites or inter-connecting rooms, or to rent an apartment
  • When on holiday Emiratis often go to bed late and rise after standard hotel breakfast times, meaning that lunch and dinner are the main meals of the day
  • Coffee is preferred boiled rather than filtered or percolated


The leisure & travel trade

  • Many travel agents are in effect ticketing agents with limited product knowledge
  • Key times of year for promotional visits to the region are February to late May and September to November
  • The working week traditionally starts on Sunday and ends on Thursday
  • Discussions in meetings are often conducted at a leisurely pace


United Arab Emirates market profile

Examine the perceived barriers to visitors from the UAE exploring Britain outside of LondonPublished October 2014 

Find out where visitors from the UAE to the UK reside in their own country. Published 2010

Read our report into the associations, key drivers, barriers, and opportunities for encouraging holidays in Britain from consumers in the UAE. Published 2010