Sharjah pulling in the crowds as a tourist destination
More than two million tourists visited Sharjah last year and the tourism sector in the emirate contributed more than 8 per cent to the gross income of the emirate. In recent years, Sharjah has put itself on the global map as a tourist destination and it was the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2014. It was also chosen as the Tourism Capital of the Arab World for this year at the Arab Tourism Ministers Summit in Cairo in November.
According to Mohmmed Ali Al Noman, the chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, the emirate’s hotel industry reported a 75 to 80 per cent occupancy rates last year, with more than 105 hotels and apartment hotels providing 10,000 rooms.
“The tourism sector contributed Dh7 billion of the Dh83bn gross income of the emirate, the figure represents 8.5 per cent, according to the latest studies,” says Mr Al Noman.
Ports in the emirate saw 238,000 international cruise tourists arriving, he says.
The authority carried out training programmes with Sharjah University for tour guides. Currently, there are 130 licensed tour guides working in the emirate. The training was aimed at enhancing the communication skills between the tour guides and the tourist, and providing the guides with information about the key tourist destinations in the emirate.
On a global level, the authority has been coordinating with parties in Germany and Russia to promote tourism in the emirate, it distributes promotional material in eight languages inside the country and globally.
Last year, the UIM Formula One H20 World Powerboat Championship and Grand Prix were among attractions that were part of Sharjah’s Water Festival.
The emirate also held an international book fare in November, where the renowned author Dan Brown was one of the main speakers. Sharjah aims to attract 3 million tourists and provide 15,000 hotel rooms by 2020.
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Updated: January 29, 2015 04:00 AM