Asian tourist spend in the UK rose 34% in 2011

A continuing economic boom in Asia has fuelled a significant rise in the level of retail spending by tourists visiting the UK, new research published today claims.

Traveller services firm Global Blue estimates that foreign tax free spending in the UK rose 34 per cent last year and that in January 2012 South East Asian tourists (SEATs) alone spent 42 per cent more than the same month 12 months ago.

Consumers from the countries of South East Asia, which include Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand, are increasingly targeting the UK as a destination for them to spend their growing wealth on retail items.

Richard Brown, Vice President of Global Blue UK, commented: “SEATs have easy access to global designer brands at home, however the premium placed on authenticity in their purchases is driving these tourists to the UK.

“In addition to re-claiming the VAT, SEATs are mirroring Chinese and Indian tourists in harnessing significant savings with their favourite brands which are priced less in the UK than at home.”

China remains one of the main drivers of tourist spend in the UK, with shoppers from the Asian giant spending 64 per cent more last year than in 2010, but some other nations in the regions are clearly following its lead with Singapore reporting a 52 per cent jump in money spent.

During January SEATs contributed to 14 per cent of the overall tax free spending across the UK, not too far behind the leader in tourist spend China which contributed 21 per cent.

Last month saw Japan re-enter the top ten countries for tourist spending for the first time since March 2011, as its consumer spending levels start to recover from the devastating effects of last year‘s Tsunami.


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