Riyadh- The British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Simon Collis, has expected a rise in joint investment projects between Riyadh and London, hoping the number of Saudi visitors to the United Kingdom would surge after the British Tourism Authority inaugurated its first office in Saudi Arabia.
The diplomat told Asharq Sl-Awsat that the Gulf countries have always been an important source for the British tourism economy. However, the rate of Saudi tourists visiting the UK was the lowest and that the inauguration of a British tourism office in the Kingdom aims to encourage Saudis on visiting Britain.
He stressed the importance of motivating Saudi tourists to visit Britain, which will represent an important resource for the economy and entertainment for the two countries and contribute to bringing the two peoples’ closer.
The British Tourism Authority opened the new office in Riyadh for the purpose of attracting more Saudi visitors to London, and announced it has appointed Saudi Badr al-Mandil as chief of its office.
In January 2017, traveling costs for Saudis to Britain dropped by 14% compared to the same period of 2016.
Collis said the opening of a tourism office in the Kingdom has come based on deep cultural and commercial ties that link both countries for years. He added that the UK receives growing numbers of tourists every year, as thousands of Saudis visit the Kingdom for business, tourism and education.
The ambassador encouraged more Saudis to visit the UK to discover all what it offers to its guests.
Sumathi Ramanathan, head of the British Tourism Authority in Asia, Pacific, the Middle East, and Australia said that Saudi Arabia has been one of the most important tourism markets worldwide.
Saudis travelers’ expenditure rate has been considered among the highest in Britain; Saudi tourists’ residence rate has also been the highest, reaching 18 nights, compared to eight nights for other nationalities.
Saudi Arabia is considered among the top 10 international markets for the UK and Saudi travelers’ expenditure is expected to reach GBP772 million by 2020.
In 2015, the UK hosted 147 Saudi visitors who spent GBP556 million.