x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Sharjah tourism officials in Europe roadshow to attract more visitors

Sharjah received about 250,000 European guests during the first quarter, an increase of 22 per cent from a year earlier.

The lights show at Qanat Al Qasba near the Sharjah Corniche in December 2013 in the run up for the UAE National Day celebration. Antonie Robertson / The National
The lights show at Qanat Al Qasba near the Sharjah Corniche in December 2013 in the run up for the UAE National Day celebration. Antonie Robertson / The National

Sharjah is looking to Europe to attract more tourists from its largest overseas market.

On Monday the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) will lead a team that will travel to Austria, Germany and Switzerland over a period of five days.

Last year its roadshow in the continent, organised under the umbrella of the National Council for Tourism and Antiquities, included Germany and the Netherlands.

Europe is already the emirate’s largest source market for tourists. Sharjah received about 250,000 European guests during the first quarter, an increase of 22 per cent from a year earlier. They formed 41 per cent of the 600,000 visitors during the period. About 71,000 visitors came from Asia.

Last year Sharjah’s hotels and hotel apartments reported 1.9 million tourists, up from 1.7 million the previous year.

Among its other top markets are the Arabian Gulf countries, which make up 35 per cent of tourists, said Mohamed Ali Al Noman, the SCTDA chairman, at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai last week.

The emirate is targeting 2 million tourists this year, he said while announcing the emirate’s first Novotel hotel.

Europe’s trade with the UAE has also been increasing. The UAE imported goods, including machinery and transport equipment, worth €45 billion (Dh226.85bn) from the European Union last year. That was up 21 per cent from a year earlier, which meant the UAE was the EU’s eighth-largest trading partner.

The French hotel operator Accor said this month that it would manage the Dh100 million property under the Novotel brand near the Sharjah Expo Centre to cater to the business travellers. The 200-room, four-star property is expected to be ready in the next two years.

The emirate expects to add 2,000 more rooms in the next couple of years. It currently has nearly 10,000 rooms.

Sharjah has been nominated as the capital of Islamic culture in the Arab region, along with Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan for Asia and Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso in Africa. Next year it will be the capital of Arab tourism.

The emirate’s tourism authority toured Kuwait and Saudi Arabia last month. Sharjah received 41,665 Kuwaiti tourists last year, up 17 per cent from the previous year, but Saudi tourists fell 1.5 per cent to 192,366.

ssahoo@thenational.ae

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