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Sharjah eyes GCC with tourism road shows

Visitors from region made for 36% of emirate’s tourist arrivals last year

Image Credit: Gulf News Archives
The Al Majaz Waterfront. Road shows have helped Sharjahexpand its tourism presence in the region over the years.
Gulf News

Sharjah: A series of road shows across the GCC organised by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) kicks off on Wednesday.

This year marks the 10th edition of the road show campaign, which aims to boost the inflow of tourists from the GCC. Officials from the SCTDA will hold presentations and workshops highlighting Sharjah’s events and attractions for audiences comprising officials from the tourism and aviation industries across the GCC. The road show will start in Muscat before moving to Kuwait, and then to the cities of Jeddah, Riyadh and Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia.

The road shows have helped Sharjah expand its presence in the region over the years, according to Khalid Jasem Al Midfa, SCTDA’s director general. “Sharjah’s economic and tourism relations with our Gulf neighbours have historically been robust and have grown dramatically in recent years. In fact, the Gulf is our biggest tourism market along with Europe and the emirate every year receives hundreds of thousands of visitors from the neighbouring GCC states,” Al Midfa said.

According to the SCTDA, Sharjah received around 618, 487 tourists last year from the GCC, which accounts for 36 per cent of the total number of tourists that stood at 1,739, 240. Tourists from Oman registered the strongest growth in 2012, their numbers swelling to 135,334 from 54,794 in 2011 — an increase of 147 per cent. Tourists from Saudi Arabia numbered 195, 462 last year, a 96 per cent growth rate from 99,505 in 2011.

According to Peter Goddard, managing partner at TRI Hospitality Consulting, Sharjah has great potential to become an attractive destination to GCC and Mena families if it offers more four-star hotels and quality shopping centres.

“If Sharjah puts road work and a Metro system on its agenda, that would mean a lot for its tourism,” Goddard said.

Traditionally, “Eastern European tourists have come to Sharjah for its affordable accommodation and attractive weather. But Sharjah can also target China and India. China is a massive market and it’s growing worldwide — Sharjah can attract budget tourists,” he said.

— Sarah Algethami is a trainee at Gulf News