Following the launch of new airlines from the UAE that fly direct to London from the UAE, there has been small increase in traffic of 3.5 per cent for 2003 from the UAE and the Middle East region, Mark Miller, regional manager, Middle East and North Africa of Visit Britain, said yesterday.

By Anupama V. Chand

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Published: Mon 3 May 2004, 2:35 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:57 AM

Speaking to City Times prior to announcing Visit Britain's participation in the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), which kicks off in Dubai tomorrow (May 4), Miller said the increase was attributed mainly to the introduction of new airlines like Etihad, flying direct to London from Abu Dhabi, and of course, the continued growth and route development of Emirates Airline, which has recently added another flight to London (Heathrow), as well as a brand-new daily flight to Glasgow in Scotland. He noted that this took the number of daily Emirates flights to British destinations to 10 per day, including four to London (Heathrow), and two to London (Glasgow), one to Birmingham, and two to Manchester, in addition to the new Glasgow flight.

"The UAE and the UK share a great relationship built on people contact, and we are glad to reiterate our tactical support to Emirates, in expanding sectors serviced in both countries. Our relationship, cemented further by the recent establishment of the Maktoum Institute in Dundee, and the faculty support extended by the Edinburgh Glasgow & Strathclyde school to the MBA programme in Dubai, under the aegis of the British Council, surely helped to record 25,000 people from the Middle East alone last year," Miller said.

He noted that following research findings indicating that 70 per cent of all visitors from the area came to the UK either to visit friends and relatives or their children studying there, VisitBritain had decided to focus on the leisure traveller from the Middle East, especially families, this time. Besides, people from the Middle East are the third largest spenders in Britain, a trend that augurs well for the economy!

He pointed out that tourism was one of the largest industries in Britain worth some £76 billion, and accounting for 4.5 per cent of the GDP. It supported 2.1 million jobs, 7.4 per cent of Britain's total workforce and had a potential to be worth well over £100 billion. He noted that the accent would continue to be consolidating educational ties that exist between the two countries, in addition to focusing on culture, heritage, history and landscape.

In 2003, some 450,000 visitors from the Middle East visited the UK, spending £750 million, a 3.5 per cent increase over 2002. VisitBritain forecast a 3.5 per cent increase in both number of visitors and spend in 2004.

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