Dubai: The head of Sharjah’s tourism authority has said the emirate plans to add new activities to its calendar of cultural events, while developing niche markets in an effort to bolster its visitor numbers.
In a recent interview with the Oxford Business Group (OBG), Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), said that while key events, such as the Sharjah International Book Fair, the Sharjah Light Festival and the Formula 1 Powerboat World Championship, regularly attract high numbers of visitors, there is still plenty of scope to broaden the emirate’s tourism offering.
“We see that at certain periods of time during the year, we can still include new dimensions to our calendar that can complement our tourism business,” OBG quoted Al Midfa as sying.
“We are adding the Sharjah Summer Festival and are planning to launch another festival or activity by [the end of] 2018 to cater to different audiences and to attract people from within the UAE and the neighbouring countries,” he added.
The wider UAE would also stand to benefit from being able to offer tourists a variety of destinations that are complementary and within easy reach of one another, Al Midfa noted.
Sharjah is aiming to attract 10 million visitors by 2021, officials say. Sharjah International Airport currently has the capacity to receive almost 10 million passengers, which is expected to grow to 25 million passengers within the next five years with a new expansion plan outlined earlier this year.
Al Midfa said that more than 5,000 rooms were set to be added to the 10,000 already available by 2021.
“Significantly, we have a number of international hotel operators that are interested in Sharjah, and this is critical to any destination,” he added.