Sharjah’s tourism industry attended the World Travel Market (WTM) in London, one of the global travel and tourism trade’s most influential events, in full force this year under a pavilion organised by Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA). Exhibitors presented Sharjah’s tourism destinations, hotels, resorts and amenities at the 2016 exhibition from 7 – 9 November, including Sharjah Investment & Development Authority’s (Shurooq’s) award-winning Mleiha Archaeological and Ecotourism Project.
Recently awarded the prestigious Cityscape Global – Best Community, Culture & Tourism Project Award in the Middle East in September, this is the first time that the Mleiha Archaeological and Ecotourism Project has been showcased at WTM. Shurooq has earmarked an estimated AED 250 million (US$ 69m) of investment to develop the tourism and heritage destination over the next few years, which is located in an area of natural beauty 50 kilometres to the east of Sharjah city.
Other government authorities participating in WTM include Sharjah Museums Department, which manages ten museums and a variety of other cultural attractions, and Sharjah’s Environment & Protected Areas Authority (EPAA), which has worked closely with Shurooq in the development of Mleiha.
The EPAA has also recently opened two tourist-ready wildlife conservation centres. The Wasit Wetland Centre, in Sharjah’s 4.5 square kilometre Wasit Natural Reserve, was opened to the public in November 2015: a protected area that regularly attracts 150 species of birds, both migratory and resident. Meanwhile, earlier this year, the EPAA opened the new 12 square kilometre Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre located in the Hajjar mountains, near the emirate’s east coast. The wildlife centre includes a visitor centre, tourist amenities and has trained guides are on hand to show visitors the reserve.
Other Sharjah exhibitors at WTM 2016 include Al Shaab Village, Copthorne Hotel, Cozmo Travel, Grand Excelsior Hotel Sharjah, Hotel Holiday International Sharjah, Marbella Resort, Oceanic Khorfakkan Resort & Spa, Ramada Sharjah, Sharjah Airport Travel Agency (SATA), Sharjah Healthcare Authority, Sharjah International Airport and Sheraton, which recently opened its 349-room luxury Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort & Spa.
Sharjah’s participation in WTM 2016, supports the SCTDA’s marketing effort for Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021, a tourism development strategy that aims to attract more than 10 million tourists to the emirate by year 2021. More than 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, decision makers and international media are expected to participate the three-day exhibition.