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International tourism markets
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a significant impact on overseas travel in 2020 and 2021. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) suspended the International Passenger Survey on 16 March 2020. Interviews re-started at airports in 2021. But data collection remained suspended at trains stations and some seaports.
UK recovery from the Middle East is strong for 2022. Recent VisitBritain / Oxford Economics forecasts predict:
- Spend from the United Arab Emirates will return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023
- Spend from Saudi Arabia will return to pre-pandemic levels in 2024
VisitBritain's latest report into travel motivation and influences shows:
- Strong demand for Britain from high spending Middle East travellers
- Significant interest in visiting Scotland
Throughout 2022, the United Arab Emirates saw steady growth in direct seat capacity to the UK. It came within 6% of 2019 levels in May and is expected to peak in December. Emirates and Qatar Airways continue to fly daily into Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively.
From 2023, all six Golf Coast countries will be granted an electronic travel authorisation. This makes it easier and cheaper for nationals of these countries to travel to the UK. It is expected that this will further boost visitation.
Tour operators tell us that demand for exploring the countryside and areas outside of cities has increased. Castles and gardens are one of the main pull factors. But visitors are also still looking for luxury accommodation and associated high-quality service. There is also increased interest in winter breaks in Scotland.
You can find further insight on the Middle Eastern market on the VisitBritain website.