Statistics issued by Visa International state that travellers coming to the Middle East spent over $1 billion on their Visa cards at retail locations during the six months ending 30 April 2004, representing a 43 per cent increase in revenue for retailers over the equivalent period the previous year.
The total number of Visa sales transactions recorded exceeded 63 million with transaction peaks witnessed on the days of Ramadan, Eid, Christmas, New Year, DSF and Eid Al Adha. The highest spend was witnessed in December 2003, when expenditure reached $185 million.
Tourism boards in the Middle East have acknowledged that the usage of payment cards by international travellers is a major contributor to the revenue growth of local retailers. They also acknowledged the direct correlation between increased card usage by international travellers visiting the Middle East and positive growth in the local economy.
Khalid A bin Sulayem, Director General of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said: "Electronic payment systems form an integral part of the advanced infrastructure Dubai offers to the visitors. Creating a convenient and safe payment environment is not only beneficial to travellers, but also a significant factor in enhancing the success of local retailers and the emirate's booming hospitality and shopping segments."
"Additionally, the increased trend towards electronic payments complements Dubai e-government initiatives aimed at driving more efficient and streamlined processes," he said.
Marwan Khoury, Managing Director of the Jordan Tourism Board agreed with Bin Sulayem saying, "The rising traffic of incoming business and leisure travellers has necessitated that the hospitality and retail community offer electronic payment facilities for safe and easy transactions. As plastic becomes an increasingly popular mode of payment, retailers can further add value through cardholder loyalty schemes and promotional offers, thereby achieving greater customer satisfaction."
Kamran Siddiqi, General Manager Middle East of Visa International, said that as the region increasingly moves towards automation in several fields, more merchants are realising the incremental benefits of accepting Visa.
In the past four years, Visa has witnessed double-digit growth in acceptance locations in the Middle East to total more than 100,000 retailers as at 31 March 2004.
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