Exhibiting draws Gulf region tourists to the UK

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According to VisitBritain, the number of tourists from the Gulf region to the UK has jumped recently, with exhibitions given as a key reason for the rise. Some 494,000 people made trips to the UK last year, up nine per cent on 2008. The average amount that visitors from the Gulf region spent in 2009 was £1,733 per person, more than three times as much as the average tourist. The increase comes after a sustained push by VisitBritain to sell the UK as a destination at exhibitions abroad. Together with Tourism Ireland it launched a major business-to-business travel trade event, Destination Britain and Ireland (Debi) in Dubai this May. More than 200 companies exhibited over three days to an audience drawn from the Asia Pacific, Gulf and Africa regions. “We feel this jump is partly due thanks to a sustained push by us to sell the UK as a travel destination,” says VisitBritain’s director of strategy and communications, Patricia Yates. “It is good news that travellers from the region are attracted by our reputation as a safe, welcoming country with lots of sights and entertainment to enjoy." Tourists from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates say they are also attracted to the UK by the opportunity to shop for fashion and luxury goods not available at home, and the chance to watch one of England’s Premier League football clubs.
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