Dubai: International visitors are one of the biggest sources of consumer spending in the UAE, and the amount of money they spend at hotels, restaurants and other commercial establishments during their stay are growing every year, the latest data suggest.

Data collated by Mashreq showed that about a quarter (25 per cent) of expenditures in the UAE is made by tourists from all over the world.

Their total annual spend went up by six per cent in 2018 compared to a year earlier.

The tourism market in the UAE has grown recently due to an easing of certain visa restrictions, especially among Chinese and Russian travellers.

Saudis are top spenders

Over the last 12 months, nearly 90 million people passed through the terminals of Dubai International, up by more than one per cent from the previous year.

While the biggest source of traveler traffic last year was India, visitors from Saudi Arabia have topped the table in terms of spending.

According to Mashreq’s data, credit card spending by travellers from the Gulf state accounted for 20 per cent of overall international spending, followed by China, United States, United Kingdom, Kuwait, Russia and India.

Credit card use

Chinese travellers, however, showed a much bigger appetite for credit card use, with their spending rising by 50 per cent in 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.

“The impact of the strategic partnership between the UAE and China, via initiatives like Hala China, saw Chinese spending grow by over 50 per cent,” said Mashreq in a statement.

More than 1.5 million people from Saudi Arabia visited Dubai in 2017, according to figures from the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism). The kingdom remained the highest driver of visitor traffic from within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region.