Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) has recently revealed plans to open five overseas offices to promote Sharjah as a tourism destination. The authority will open representative offices in China, India, Russia, Germany and Saudi Arabia during the first part of 2016. Meanwhile, the authority has forecast a modest 3-5 percent growth in tourist numbers for this year, after a drop in hotel guests in 2015.
The SCTDA’s tourism development strategy aims to attract more than 10 million tourists to Sharjah by year 2021. However, despite a record year for Sharjah International Airport, which handled 10 million passengers during 2015, Sharjah hotel guest numbers dropped 13 percent to 1.79 million from 2 million in 2014.
According to industry sources, a contributing factor to lower hotel bookings last year was the continuing deterioration in the strength of the Russian Rouble, which significantly reduced the number of Russian tourists visiting Europe and the Middle East.
The SCTDA’s new overseas tourism offices will help drive the Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021 strategic plan and allow the authority to better target different inbound tourist segments. In recent years, the emirate has successfully positioned itself as a family tourism destination, a international cultural hub and an Islamic cultural centre. Sharjah was named the Islamic Culture Capital for 2014 and the Capital of Arab Tourism for 2015.
Sharjah offers more than 100 hotels and hotel apartments, including properties managed by some of the leading five star hotel brands in the world. The emirate’s luxury segment was given a boost last year with the opening of a new 349 room Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort & Spa by Starwoods. Meanwhile, a new US$100 million (AED 367m) art and culture themed 5-star luxury beachfront hotel and resort to be managed by Accor is currently under development. On Sharjah’s east coast, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) is developing Al Jabal Resort – The Chedi Khorfakkan, a mountainside luxury villa resort.
Sharjah International Airport saw passengers increase by a 10 percent to 929,539 last month, compared with January 2015. This included 10 percent increases in both inbound and outbound passenger numbers.
Source: SCTDA, Sharjah Airport Authority