Gulf tourists spend SR546 million in London during holiday break

LONDON – The city of London received a financial bonanza during Ramadan, with a record number of tourists from the Gulf making it their choice destination during the holy month.

The city had geared itself for the Ramadan rush by offering unique packages and sales that is expected to reap them a bounty of SR546 million following a month of high spending by Gulf residents.

Financial circles in London expect the total spending by Gulf tourists during the period July/August to reach £91 million (SR546 million), an increase of 25 percent compared to the same period last year when purchases by Gulf nationals from London stores, cafeterias and restaurants reached £73.2 million (SR439.2 million), Al-Hayat daily said.

That the Gulf nationals were the big spenders during this month was evident from The Daily Mail report on Friday. It mentioned that a Gulf national purchased a wristwatch for £18,000 (SR108,000) from one of the mega department stores on Oxford Street in London.

The Daily Mail also pointed out that London witnessed an exceptional flow of Gulf tourists as many avoided spending the summer in France following the imposition of the ban on wearing the Niqab in public places.

Well-known mega department stores too reported brisk sales, even though prices at these stores were on the high-end. Gulf women frequented such stores where they purchased necklaces with prices beginning from £6,000 (SR36,000). Meanwhile, others purchased handbags, shoes and children’s needs at prices ranging between SR6,000 and SR468,000 (£78,000).

An employee working in Harrods department store was quoted as saying that a 14-year-old Gulf girl purchased a crocodile skin bag for her mother for a hefty price — £12,000 (SR72,000) — and she paid in cash.

The daily said that well-to-do Gulf families transport the family and its whole entourage including domestic workers, bodyguards, chauffeurs and the same cars so as to provide an opportunity to all the family members to shop in London’s malls.

The daily said that a British company made a killing by selling unique British paintings for cars. One of these cars carried the English letters “EMIRATES” and the painting was sold for £35,000 (SR210,000).

Arabic dailies had earlier reported that from Saudi Arabia more than 1.4 million tourists departed this summer. A significant percentage of Saudis left before the holy month of Ramadan. A small number of them had made reservations during Ramadan.

As for popular destinations, Dubai topped the list — even during the summer period — due to its close proximity to the Kingdom; Malaysia was second, followed by London, Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, Beirut — which has returned with force, Sharm El-Sheikh and Cairo in Egypt.

There was a drop in the number of travelers to Turkey compared to last year. Other destinations including Germany, Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles, Mauritius and the Maldives were also popular but in less numbers.

 
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