The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, SCTDA, revealed that the emirate recorded a three percent growth in the number of hotel guests in 2019 as compared to 2018.
The sector welcomed approximately 1.8 million guests last year with a hotel occupancy rate of 66 percent. Guests from the Russian Federation topped the list, followed by GCC countries such as Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Oman, and then India.
Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman, SCTDA, said that the emirate witnessed robust inflows of tourists throughout last year, thanks to the emirate’s major achievements in terms of the launch of new recreation facilities, tourism initiatives and related activities. Al Midfa added that Sharjah’s higher hotel occupancy rates can be attributed to the success of the initiatives and projects implemented in line with the vision of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to further enhance the emirate’s position on the global tourism landscape.
Al Midfa noted that by the end of 2019, the emirate had more than 10,000 hotel rooms, comprising 1,331 rooms in nine 5-star hotels; 2,733 rooms in 21 4-star hotels, as well as 31 in one to three-star hotels; and 2,485 apartments in 40 hotel apartment facilities.
Furthermore, six new 5-star and 4-star hotels were inaugurated last year, and more than seven new hotel projects are expected to be unveiled in 2020. This reflects Sharjah’s growth as a must-visit destination for families, business travellers and those seeking exciting tourism and recreation activities, and highlights investor confidence in Sharjah’s flourishing tourism sector.
Sharjah’s tourism sector is one of the main pillars of its economy, owing to its ability to effectively contribute to the creation of job opportunities, diversification of economic base and income sources. Tourism accounted for 8.8 percent or more than AED9 billion of Sharjah’s total GDP of AED102.5 billion as per the 2015 GDP data.
As part of its continued efforts to promote tourism, attract more tourists and visitors and boost the emirate’s tourism competitiveness, the SCTDA launched a package of innovative services last year.
These include the “Smart Mirror,” an interactive platform that promotes Sharjah’s profile as a destination of choice for tourists by enabling users to explore the emirate’s main landmarks and attractions; and the “AI Tour Guide Chatbot,” a 24×7 voice and text-based chatbot developed to provide the latest information about Sharjah to tourists and answer their queries. Accessible via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger and available in five languages (Arabic, English, German, Chinese and Russian), the “AI Tour Guide Chatbot” provides accurate details about the emirate’s top tourist destinations, must-do recreation activities, world-class hotel facilities and leading restaurants.
Through 2019, the SCTDA conducted several promotional campaigns to attract ever greater numbers of tourists and visitors to the emirate. In addition to the aforementioned campaigns, the Authority participated in various international exhibitions and conferences inside and outside the UAE, reaching out to the target audience and spreading awareness of the unique and exceptional attributes of Sharjah as a year-round family-friendly destination.
Thanks to these efforts, the SCTDA was able to launch into new markets such as the Nordic Countries, through its participation at the MATKA Nordic Travel Fair and the promotional tour organised for the first time in Central Europe, targeting three major markets in cooperation with Emirates airline. The promotional tours held in Prague, Warsaw and Budapest complement the SCTDA’s efforts to achieve the Sharjah Tourism Vision that aims to attract more than 10 million tourists to the emirate by 2021.