Tourism officials in Sharjah have launched a promotion aimed at local residents who they expect will stay at home for this year's summer holidays instead of travelling abroad, owing to the global downturn and the swine flu outbreak. The emirate's tourism department has entered into several partnerships with hotels to offer UAE and Gulf residents discounts over the hotter months, according to WAM, the state news agency.
"Cultural tourism accounts for 37 per cent of world travel, a figure that is growing by 15 per cent annually, according to the World Tourism Organisation," said Mohammed al Noman, director general of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority. "With the current global economic downturn and fears of H1N1 contagion, UAE residents are increasingly turning to domestic tourism options." The number of regional tourists who visit the emirate had already been projected to increase this year, said Mr al Noman, with exhibitions at both the Sharjah Heritage Museum and the Sharjah Natural History Museum also designed to attract more visitors.
He argued that Sharjah offered tourists the most traditional experience in the Emirates. "Even after the promotion has ended, on August 15, we don't expect the tourism industry will suffer because of Ramadan. It is one of our peak periods because the emirate will have shopping and food promotions and there will be lots of fun events for the kids during the month." "The emirate's first customers are from the GCC, followed by Europeans" added Mr Noman.