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Sharjah records 10 per cent surge in tourist arrivals Lily B. Libo-on / 16 February 2014 Over 4,000 events will highlight the celebration of Sharjah as the ‘Captial of Islamic Culture’, jointly sponsored by SCTDA and various government agencies. Tourist arrivals in Sharjah will certainly see a significant rise this year as the emirate puts on its crown as the “Capital of Islamic Culture” in the world. The old heritage area in Sharjah. -KT file photo Even before the end of 2013, the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) recorded an impressive 10 per cent increase in tourist arrivals, specifically 1,391,632 international tourists visiting the emirate from January to September 2013 as against 1,263,908 over the same period in 2012. Mohammed Ali Al Noman, SCTDA Chairman, highlighted the sustained and steady growth of Sharjah’s hospitality industry and its strong fundamentals. Over 4,000 events will highlight the celebration of Sharjah as the ‘Captial of Islamic Culture’, jointly sponsored by SCTDA and various government agencies. The tourism come-on activities are anchored by Sharjah Light Festival, Sharjah Water Festival and Sharjah Tourism Excellence Award. All these are expected to lure tens of thousands of tourists more this year to the emirate that is home to authentic Arab and Islamic cultural heritage. In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times , Al Noman said the authority expects the number of international arrivals to significantly go up as interest in Sharjah, its authentic Arab and Islamic cultural heritage and a wide range of world-class events and entertainment, grows with this year’s celebration. With the Sharjah Light Festival, the first of its kind in the region, that concluded on February 14, illuminating a number of landmarks and historical buildings across the emirate, Al Noman said that five, four and three-star hotels in Sharjah City, Khorfakkan, Kalba and Dibba are experiencing 100 per cent occupancy rate. “This is the main objective of having big events to lure in positive way tourists to come to Sharjah and to UAE. We have 9,573 hotel rooms, and a number of new hotels and luxury resorts coming up in Sharjah. With investments pouring into the hospitality sector, the number of hotel rooms is expected to reach 12,000 by 2015 to keep pace with the growth of tourist numbers.” Latest tourist profile statistics shows 37 per cent (509,481 tourists) are from GCC, 33 per cent (455,489 ) from Europe, 14 per cent (192,715 ) from Asia, 13 per cent (178,268 ) from other Arab countries, two per cent from America, and one per cent each from Africa and the Pacific Region. “We have continuously developed the tourism sector through our affiliation and commitment to the travel agencies. We have lots of participation with travel agencies internally by holding seminars, training and presentations. Our job is not just creating events but we also support others such as the Sharjah International Book Fair, fourth biggest in the world, organised by Sharjah’s Department of Culture and Information; and the Sharjah Heritage Days handled by the Heritage department in the Department of Culture and Information in Sharjah. All events revolving around arts, culture, heritage and traditions do not have to be done by one department alone,” Al Noman says. He says that SCTDA is a destination development department, and Sharjah has laws on licencisng of tour guides. “We have done lots of training for the tour guides by affiliating them to Sharjah University. We train tour operators, front-line staff of hotels and others in the travel industry on the culture an heritage of Sharjah and the UAE.” Al Noman says that SCTDA will launch, in few weeks from now, training for taxi drivers, concierge and front desk teams on its various touristic sites in Sharjah to beef up their capability to direct tourists around and make their visits very memorable. “In this way, they will come again and again. Sharjah will be their first destination for a holiday,” he adds. firstname.lastname@example.org Tourism Assets Sharjah boasts a world-class international airport, Sharjah International Airport, that has been a hub of international travel and trade traffic connecting the emirate to the world. One of the busiest airports in the region, it continues to grow at a frenetic pace along with the emirate’s flagship airline Air Arabia. > Al Majaz Waterfront Al Majaz Waterfront is a landmark project developed by Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) that has transformed the picturesque Buheirah Corniche and an old park into a breathtaking, complete family-friendly, fun and leisure area with an area of 231,000sqm. > Beehive of Museums Sharjah is home to some of the richest and most distinct museums in the region and beyond. > Heart of Sharjah The Heart of Sharjah is easily the emirate’s most ambitious project. Scheduled for completion in 2025, the region’s largest heritage project seeks to preserve national historic landmarks in Sharjah and the UAE, including archaeological sites and museums. > Network of Free Zones Sharjah is home to nearly half of the UAE’s manufacturing and industrial sector. The emirate was one of the pioneers in the region encouraging free trade besides setting up Sharjah Expo Centre. Hamriya Free Zone is another major gateway to global business. > Old-World Charm of Souqs Open since 1979, the legendary Central Souq is the most famous souq in Sharjah and is a definite destination for all shoppers. TOURISM PROFILE > Number of international tourists who visited Sharjah in 2012: 1,739,240 > Number of tourists who visited Sharjah in the first half of 2013: 951,592 > Total of hotel room nights in first half of 2013: 1,071,829 > Share of European tourists who visited in first half of 2013: 37 per cent > Share of Arab/GCC tourists who visited in H1 of 2013: 44% > Share of Asian tourists who visited in first half of 2013: 14 per cent > Hotel Occupancy in Sharjah in the first half of 2013: 71 per cent > Number of hotel establishments in the emirate: 102 hotel properties (47 Hotels and 55 hotel apartments) For more news from Khaleej Times, follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/khaleejtimes , and on Twitter at @khaleejtimes Continue reading →
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