Sharjah reports impressive 10% increase in tourist arrivals in 2013
The World Tourism Market 2013 got off to a colourful start at Excel London with Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority making a strong pitch for the Emirate’s tourism sector which has been growing at a steady pace.
This is the tenth year of Sharjah’s participation in the premier tourism and travel expo being held from November 4 to 7 in the British capital.
Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the London exhibition, the Authority today released the statistics of Sharjah’s hotel industry performance during the first nine months of the year. The tourism market in the Emirate has witnessed a healthy 10% growth, according to the latest statistics. A total number of 1,391,632 international tourists visited the Emirate until September this year whereas the number of visitors in the same period last year stood at 1,263,908.
While the Emirate received a total of 455,489 European tourists forming 33% of its total international arrivals, the tourists from the GCC countries stood at 509,481 tourists commanding 37% of Sharjah’s tourist numbers.
The Arab tourists at 178,268 constituted 13% of the Emirate’s tourism market whereas the Asian tourists at 192,715 took a share of 14%. The rest came from the Americas, Asia Pacific and Africa, forming 4% of the total arrivals. The hotel room nights during this period stood at 2,474,270. The number of hotel properties in the Emirate now stands at 103 (48 hotels and 55 hotel apartments).
The total number of rooms has reached 9,573. With a number of new hotels and luxury resorts coming up in Sharjah and investments pouring into the hospitality sector, the number of hotel rooms is expected to reach 12,000 hotel rooms by 2015 keeping pace with the growth of tourist numbers.
Welcoming the encouraging trend of Sharjah’s tourism sector growth, SCTDA Chairman HE Mohamed Ali Al Noman underscored the sustained and steady growth of Sharjah’s hospitality industry and its strong fundamentals.
He said that Sharjah is looking forward to putting up its best performance yet at the prestigious London Exhibition with a strong focus on its heritage and family-focused tourism experience as well as the unprecedented growth and developments the tourism sector has seen in the past few months and years.
Al Noman emphasised that the London exhibition has over the years helped the Emirate bolster its presence in the European tourism market.
“Europe has emerged as a key tourism feed market for the Emirate. The number of arrivals from the Continent have consistently grown in recent years,” said the SCTDA Chairman said emphasizing that Sharjah figures high on European tourist itineraries today because of the diversity of its natural landscape and cultural and civilizational heritage complemented by numerous museums, beaches, mountains and nature reserves.
Headed by the SCTDA Chairman, the Sharjah delegation to the London expo includes representatives from Shurooq (Sharjah Investment and Development Authority), the Sharjah International Airport, Sharjah National Hotels, Ramada Sharjah, Arabian Link Tours and Sharjah Media Centre.
The striking Sharjah pavilion at Excel London celebrates the Emirate’s unique cultural identity, its traditions, tourist attractions and modern infrastructure. Also on offer are a number of publications, brochures and other promotional material offering an insight into what awaits international visitors in Sharjah.
Al Noman noted that this year’s participation in the WTM comes on the eve of international celebrations of Sharjah as the Capital of Islamic Culture for in 2014.
“In view of the 2014 celebrations, the Authority expects the number of international arrivals to significantly go up as interest in Sharjah, its authentic Arab and Islamic cultural heritage and a wide range of world-class events and entertainment grows,” he said.
The Sharjah Light Festival, the first of its kind in the region, is organised by the Authority across the Emirate illuminating a number of landmarks and historical buildings celebrating the Emirati history and heritage. The Emirate also takes pride in the Sharjah Heritage Days festival, Sharjah International Book Fair and numerous other events.
Al Noman said that both public and private sector stakeholders of the Emirate are keen to provide superior, world-class services to international visitors and the development of major infrastructure projects in recent years and investments by international hotel majors in the sector are a testimony to the fact.
The WTM brings together the who’s who of the global travel and tourism industry, including international tourist destinations, tourism bodies, travel and tour operators and prominent names in international hospitality industry and media. More than 3,000 journalists representing European and international media are covering the global event.