Visitors from the UK retained their position as the biggest spenders in the UAE, according to latest research from Visa.

It said in its new report that the UK was closely followed by people from Russia and the United States.

Visa account holders from these three countries alone spent a total of $1.2bn on Visa debit and credit cards during 2011 - almost a third (29.7 percent) of total tourism spend in the UAE.

Visa's latest Tourism Outlook: UAE report also highlighted the increase in spend from developing markets in the UAE, with the most impressive growth recorded in Angola which was up 89.1 percent to $166.1m.

Visitors from Saudi Arabia contributed $326.3m spend on their Visa cards in 2011, up 73.8 percent from the previous year.

Chinese Visa account holders spent 72.6 percent more year-on-year with a total of $225.1m spent in 2011.

Surprisingly, given its proximity to the UAE and increased spending power among its growing middle class, India recorded only an 11.5 percent increase to $141.3m.

Most regions saw an increase in the average receipt size, which was up 4.8 percent overall to $255, a positive sign that consumer confidence is on the increase around the globe.

Chinese Visa account holders especially were spending more while visiting the UAE, with the highest increase in average transaction spend - up 29.1 percent to just over $700 per transaction.

Marcello Baricordi, general manager for Visa in the UAE, said: "This year's results made interesting reading as established markets still retain their allure, while developing countries are growing fast and looking for ways to spend their money.

"It's also noticeable how Russia, China and the US are starting to become more prominent, as airlines such as flydubai and Emirates expand their networks and consumers are increasingly coming to the UAE to take advantage of the luxury goods market."

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