Although Brexit continues to feed uncertainty in some quarters, officials and experts in the tourism industry believe that any impact on tourism from the UK to the United Arab Emirates will be limited and have a short-term impact.
The UAE remains a favourite destination for UK travellers, and the country’s withdrawal from the EU is not expected to change that.
27% year-on-year growth was seen in outbound and inbound traffic alike between the UAE and the UK in Q1 of last year.
However, this reversed to become negative growth once the Brexit transition began, according to Cleartrip’s director of marketing Matthew Sliedrecht.
Year-on-year traffic declined from March by 11% for outbound and 12% for inbound traffic.
Allsopp & Allsopp’s CEO Lewis Allsopp says that the UAE is a haven for tourists, and citizens of the UK will continue to see what the nation has to offer when they begin to plan their next holiday.
Despite the uncertainty over Brexit and the pound being devalued against the dollar, the UK is still the third-biggest source market for Dubai, with as many as 1,086,000 visitors coming to the emirate between January and November last year, according to Dubai Tourism.
This is primarily because of the intense in-market activities that remain ‘on’ through most of the year in the UAE, including seasonal promotions and campaigns and heavy stakeholder engagement with the likes of visits from high-level envoys.
Colliers International has also carried out research in advance of the Arabian Travel Market 2020 that demonstrated that UK arrivals to the GCC are set to increase by 22% between 2018 and 2024.
The increase is the result of more leisure travellers, increasingly competitive air fares, and new and direct flight routes.
In 2025, as many as 2.8 million residents of the UK are expected to travel to the GCC, an increase of 500,000 visitors in comparison to arrival figures from 2018.
The UK has historically enjoyed superb tourism and travel links with the GCC, and this is not expected to change over the course of the next four years in spite of the uncertainty over Brexit and the decline in the pound to dollar exchange.
Arabian Travel Market’s exhibition director in the Middle East Danielle Curtis says that the UAE will continue to be the preferred destination for British tourists in the GCC, with 2.23 million visitors projected for 2023.
The International Air Transport Association’s CEO and director general Alexandre de Juniac says that trade wars, social unrest, geopolitical tensions, Brexit uncertainty and a slowdown in economic growth have made the business environment tougher than expected for airlines.
However, the industry was still in the black for a decade thanks to cost-cutting and restructuring.
The 2020 forecast appears to be brighter than was the case for 2019.
Anyone who travels to the UAE from the UK, or vice versa, should ensure that they are covered for any unfortunate mishaps during their excursions by taking out travel insurance.