Figures from Premier Tax Free, which manages tourist VAT refunds in 30 countries around the world, showed significant increases in sales from overseas visitors to Leeds.
Tax free sales in Leeds have boomed from visitors from the United Arab Emirates (up 107.6%), Kuwait (62.3%) and Qatar (58.4%). Other big jumps were noted among tourists from Malaysia (93.7%) and the United States (80.9%).
It is thought that the increase in shoppers – which grew by 2.1% year-on-year – is in part due to the increase in both the number, and capacity, of flights from the Middle East to Manchester, as well as the availability of connections from Leeds Bradford airport to the Middle East.
The double-digit growth has been fuelled by a significant increase in the per visit spend, up 10.5% in the year to the end of August 2016.
David Maddison, general manager at Trinity Leeds which is now a fully tax free shopping destination, said: "The knock on from Brexit is that the UK is a more attractive shopping destination for overseas visitors who are literally getting more bang for their buck, euro, dinar, dirham and yuan.
"We have been working for a number of months to ensure that we can offer our international visitors a completely tax free shopping experience under one roof.
"Tax free is becoming an increasingly important part of our business and will continue to grow with events such as the Grand Départ and last year’s Rugby World Cup putting the city in the international spotlight."
The upward trend is backed by VisitLeeds which released figures from STEAM – which measures the economic impact of the tourism industry – showing the city enjoyed 26.21m tourism visits in 2015, a 5.3% increase from 2013. The visitor economy sector is growing at an impressive rate with day visitors up by 4.7% and overnight stays increasing by 12.5%.
Jennifer Young, head of visitor economy and inward investment for VisitLeeds, said: "As the STEAM results illustrated, Leeds is growing as a popular tourist destination. Our recent and planned campaign and sales missions include China and the USA and the development of tax free shopping is a crucial element for both of these markets. It’s great to see Trinity Leeds supporting our visitor offer in Leeds."
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