The Emirate of Sharjah registered a 7 percent increase in hotel revenues, reaching AED 378 million (USD 103m) during the first six months of 2016, according to the latest figures from Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA). The authority has been targeting markets identified in its strategic marketing plan and says that H1 2016 hotel statistics show a 19 percent increase from those markets, compared with H1 2015. The SCTDA announced its Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021 tourism development strategy in 2015, which aims to attract more than 10 million tourists to the emirate by year 2021.
A total of 878,006 visitors booked accommodation in Sharjah during the first half of 2016, compared with about one million visitors registered during the first half of 2015. Sharjah guests stayed a total number of 1.99 million hotel nights from 1st January to 30th June 2016
China is now Sharjah’s fastest growing tourism market. The SCDTA has recently stepped up marketing efforts in China, opening up a representative office, recruiting Chinese staff and adding a Chinese language website to Sharjah’s tourism portal. The emirate saw a 78 percent increase in Chinese visitors during 2015 and, this year, has seen a 73.2 percent increase in Chinese tourist numbers during the first six months.
Overall, the largest numbers of visitors during the first six months of this year came from the GCC which accounted for nearly 220,000 hotel guests or about 25 percent of the total. Asia provided the second largest source of tourists, showing a 12 percent increase compared to H1 2015. Meanwhile, 180,768 registered Sharjah hotel guests came from Europe, accounting for about 21 percent of the total.
Visitor numbers from Russia have decreased in recent years due to the deterioration in the strength of the Russian Ruble, which significantly reduced the number of Russian tourists visiting Europe and the Middle East. However, this year, there is room for some optimism, following a 1.8 percent increase in number of Russian visitors during H1 2016.
New flight routes to Pakistan also had a positive effect on numbers of visiting Sharjah, leading to a 10.3 percent increase to in Pakistani hotel guests. Meanwhile, there was a two percent increase in the number of African tourists visiting the emirate.
The SCTDA has been marketing Sharjah’s proposition for tourists in key markets around the world and has targeted different inbound tourist segments with specific campaigns and offers. The authority opened representative offices in several international markets this year to increase in-country marketing effectiveness.
Sharjah has invested heavily in developing itself as an international cultural hub, showcasing its heritage and creating world class museums and other cultural, educational and Islamic resources. The emirate currently offers more than 100 hotels and hotel apartments, including properties managed by some of the leading five star hotel brands in the world.