x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Sharjah a magnet for the tourists

The number of tourists visiting Sharjah rose by 11 per cent last year to more than 1.7 million people.

More than 1.7 million tourists visited Sharjah last year, as the number of hotel guests and room nights rose.

The number represents an increase of 11 per cent on 2011, when 1.56 million visitors stayed in the emirate, according to an annual statistics report.

Hotel occupancy in the emirate was about 75 per cent last year, while 72 per cent of hotel apartments were full, on average.

More than 2 million hotel nights were booked, an increase of 13 per cent compared with 2011. The number of hotels and hotel apartments was 101, with 9,141 rooms.

European and Arabian Gulf countries were jointly the emirate's largest markets, making up 72 per cent of visitors. More than 621,000 Europeans visited the emirate last year, giving them a slight edge over the number of GCC tourists, which was 618,000.

Visitors from other Arab countries made up a further 13 per cent, with Asian tourists also accounting for 13 per cent.

Mohamed Ali Al Noman, the chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, said the rise in visitors was a testament to progress in the tourism sector in the emirate.

The authority has been working to showcase Sharjah abroad at recent international exhibitions, conferences and travel and tourism sector events, including ITB Berlin. And in November it was announced that a double-decker sightseeing tour bus service was to be launched in the emirate, running all year.

Events such as the Sharjah Light Festival and Sharjah Water Festival attract hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the region and beyond every year, Mr Al Noman said.

"This growing international recognition and accolades and honours coming Sharjah's way, also reflected in the significant increase in the number of tourists last year, adds to our responsibility to work for greater success and growth, developing integrated strategies to promote Sharjah locally, regionally and internationally and attract more visitors," Mr Al Noman said.