Hotels and hotel apartments across the Emirate of Sharjah welcomed a combined 1,318,748 guests in the first nine months of 2016 (January to September).
The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) released the statistics as it took part in the World Travel Market (WTM) in London on November 7-9, 2016. The Authority headed a delegation from the emirate at the World travel Market, where it profiled tourism projects taking place across Sharjah, and explored opportunities for new contracts from the European travel market. The UK market offers a good platform for growth and the Authority is keen to increase this market by 16% this year.
The 1.3 million guests spent a total of 2,943,106 nights in the emirate’s hospitality facilities during the first 3 quarters of 2016 – a 19% increase from the 2,482,721 nights spent in Sharjah in the same period in 2015. Meanwhile, overall occupancy rates remained at 62%, the same rate as last year’s.
The GCC region remains a key market segment for Sharjah showing the success of the campaigns run throughout this region reflected through the fluctuations and increases as a direct result of the marketing activities during the first nine months of 2016. Europe remains the fifth most important market to the region. New contracts signed at WTM this year suggest that the predicted 16% increase in this market will start to show shortly.
The biggest growth market for Sharjah continues to come from China; in the first nine months of 2016, Sharjah welcomed 62,936 Chinese visitors – a staggering 75% growth from the 35,928 guests welcomed during same period in 2015. Work will continue in China to further double this number by this time next year. There is considerable scope there and this market will undoubtedly continue to deliver results while the Emirate looks to establish other serious source markets.
On the same note, Sharjah witnessed a 12% growth in the number of Pakistani visitors. It is reassuring to see recovery in the traditional Russian markets with tourism showing an 8.7% increase which is the first real positive measure of growth since the rubble devalued.
His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of SCTDA, said: “Sharjah’s travel and tourism sector has been scoring impressive results since the beginning of this year, it is spreading its risk by having a diverse portfolio of markets and this has been supported by the host of programmes and promotions organised by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority in collaboration with other stakeholders. As Sharjah aims to achieve its ambitious targets of 10 million visitors by 2021 it is confident that all the markers are showing good growth. During the first 9 months of this year Sharjah’s travel sector generated AED497 million in revenues, pointing to the success of our efforts to bolster the sector and, subsequently, the emirate’s economy.”
H.E. Al Midfa added: “The GCC region maintained its position at the top of our list of source markets as a result of good connectivity among other factors. However, the emirate has witnessed a significant increase from a diversity of markets representing our strategy focus. Sharjah stands out with its tourism offering, that combines culture, entertainment, and shopping to create a truly remarkable experience for everyone that visits.” Sharjah has 105 hospitality facilities with more due to open this year. It offers an interesting mix of international brands and boutique hotels, which are spread equally between city and beaches.