Etihad Airways signed a three year deal with VisitBritain to increase visitor numbers from the lucrative Asia Pacific and Middle East (APME) region, whilst encouraging more people to fly with Etihad Airways.

The partnership agreement, valued at £2 million (AED 12 million), will facilitate joint marketing activities in key markets around the APME region, including India, Australia, and the GCC.

Signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the airline’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi were Peter Baumgartner, Chief Commercial Officer of Etihad Airways, and Sandie Dawe, Chief Executive of VisitBritain.

Etihad Airways marketing messages and Britain’s ‘GREAT’ campaign will be maximised throughout the partnership and the airline will also benefit from an enhanced presence on all VisitBritain digital platforms, including and associated websites.

There will be an equal focus from both organisations on Etihad Airways’ gateways to Britain. Using its three-times-a-day service to London Heathrow and twice daily flights to Manchester, as well as regions served by its codeshare partners, Etihad Airways has a strong customer base in the UAE, and throughout the APME region, to drive business and tourism links to Britain.

Research from the UK’s Office for National Statistics revealed in 2012 there were over 1.8 million visits from the key markets of Australia, India and the GCC, over 40% more than a decade ago. Visitors from these regions spent over £2.5 billion in the UK, 107% higher than the amount in 2002 (in nominal terms).

The number of visits from the UAE alone has doubled in the past decade, and although 45 per cent of visits and 62 per cent of spend accrue in London, visitors from the UAE are more likely to be travelling on multi-city trips. More than seven in 10 leisure visits from the UAE also include time spent shopping, and in particular there is a significant appetite for dedicated shopping holidays that give access to brands not available in the UAE, such as Harrods.