The Emirate of Sharjah has recorded a seven percent increase in hotel revenue, reaching Dh378 million in the first six months, H1, of 2016, according to the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, SCTDA.
The SCTDA says that it has strategically identified many new markets and worked with local partners to increase guests from these markets and the H1 figures are encouraging with a 19 percent increase on the same period in 2015.
The most successful of these new markets still appears to be bookings coming from China, which witnessed a staggering 73.2 percent increase in numbers during the period. The authority is continuing to focus efforts on this market and is looking forward to further increases over the following year resulting from a new overseas office, Chinese staff, and strategic online marketing in the region.
The effect of new flight routes to Pakistan has also had a positive effect on numbers of visitors travelling from Pakistan with a 10.3 percent increase to in hotel guests. The number of Asian tourists grew by 12 percent, making Asia the second largest source market for Sharjah, just behind the GCC which sent nearly 220,000 visitors during the first six months of the current year, which is also expected to grow and see some peaks in numbers as a result of summer marketing in these regions in the second half.
Europe and Russia continue to come in third place for hotel guests in Sharjah. This year there is some optimism seeing the number of Russian visitors starting to pick up again, increasing by 1.8 percent.
Visitors from non-GCC Arab countries totaled just under a quarter of a million guests. There was a two percent increase in the number of African tourists in the emirate.
"The positive results underline the fact that Sharjah is gaining in popularity as a year-round destination for families from all around the world," said Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of SCTDA. "This in turn proves that the emirate has succeeded in diversifying its tourism and hospitality offerings."
He went on to explain that the rise in visitor numbers is in line with Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021, which builds on four key pillars to boost tourism in the emirate, from creating offerings and packages targeting families and offering new and innovative experiences, to putting in place world-class tourism facilities and capabilities, and, finally, establishing Sharjah as an international cultural hub.
"This goes to show," Al Midfa assures, "that the Emirate of Sharjah is well on its way to attract 10 million visitors by the year 2021, when the UAE celebrates its 50th anniversary, as stipulated in the Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021."