Occupancy rates in Sharjah's hotels reached 83 per cent in the first half of 2008, up from 76 per cent at the same time last year.
Sharjah hotel occupancy booms
Occupancy rates in Sharjah hotels reached 83 per cent in the first six months of the year, up from 76 per cent during the same period last year, the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) said yesterday. The SCTDA reports that the tourism sector continued the "substantial growth" it experienced last year, with the number of guests climbing by 88,277, from 673,218 in the first half of last year to 761,495 for the first half of this one. The numbers were split between hotels, which accommodated 412,927 guests, and hotel apartments, which accommodated 348,568 guests.
"Sharjah has always been an attractive destination to tourists interested in culture and heritage sites, and in the first quarter this year we opened the Sharjah Aquarium and the Islamic civilisation museum, which helped attract a lot of visitors," said Mohamed al Noman, the director general of the SCTDA. Hotels in Sharjah, including the Radisson SAS and the Millennium, said their occupancy was slightly higher than the authority reported, about 85 per cent for the first quarter of this year.
"This is the case with most hotels in Sharjah and I think its mainly due to the increased activities in the emirate and SCTDA promoting the destination during road shows," said Hany Shahwan, the director of sales and marketing at the Millennium hotel. The tourism authority has set it sights on new markets, attending a number of international exhibitions to promote Sharjah as a destination. "We have focused a lot more on attracting European tourists because they are the ones that take interest in cultural and heritage sites," said Mr al Noman. "Last year we had 70,000 German tourists visit Sharjah and this year we are expecting 90,000 because of our promoting there through exhibitions."
According to the SCTDA, European tourists accounted for 38 per cent of the total tourist influx into the emirate in the first half of the year, while GCC tourists made up 23 per cent, with another 13 per cent from the rest of the Arab world. Asian tourists made up 21 per cent of the total, while tourists from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Africa made up the rest. Furthermore, the total number of hotels and hotel apartments in Sharjah increased to 102, from 74, during the same period last year, while the number of hotel and hotel apartment rooms increased by 1,406, to 7,486 from 6,080, during the period.
"The added number of rooms this year compared to last year indicates that there is demand for Sharjah," said Mr al Noman. He pointed to a jump in the number of tourists from 600,000 in the year 2000 to 1.5 million by the end of last year, "which indicates that we are on the right track". Earlier this month, the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) reported that the number of hotel and hotel apartment guests in the emirate also rose seven per cent in the first quarter, to 1.891 million, from 1.769 million in the same quarter last year. The DTCM report called it "the highest guest increase percentage in the world".