To mark their presence on the Indian travellers itineraries, Sharjah Tourism recently appointed Outbound Konnections as their India representative. Both Sharjah Tourism and Outbound Konnections in accordance with each other have set high goals for the year 2017. To know more about their promotional plans and campaigns for the year ahead TTJ spoke to Komal Seth, Director, Outbound Konnections. Here’s a look…
Text by Rachita Sehgal
Popularly known as the Capital of Islamic Culture, Sharjah has every element to satisfy the touristic cravings of a traveller looking to experience and explore the cultural and historic side of the UAE. To enhance and strengthen its position in India’s tourism circuit the tourism board of Sharjah recently appointed Outbound Konnections as their delegate in the India market, sharing an insight on this fresh collaboration Komal said, “We got appointed by the Sharjah Tourism Board in January this year, even though we were confirmed in November it was in January only that we were officially confirmed. The motive of the board is not to shoot up its tourism numbers from India but to be present in the itinerary, brochures and preferences of the Indian traveller. And for the same we as their representative here are trying to collaborate via engagement programs with industry biggies such as Kuoni, Cox and Kings, Thomas Cook, Ibibo, Makemytrip.”
Being situated in close proximity to two of the major tourist preferred destinations of the UAE, Sharjah has its own advantages and disadvantages. While a lot of tourists see Sharjah as a transit destination to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, a lot more are trying to discover the unexplored neighbour of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, adding on Komal commented, “Being situated near Abu Dhabi and Dubai has its perks and challenges for Sharjah, one of the biggest factors, as to how we are promoting Sharjah and adding Dubai and Abu Dhabi to its advantage is that the Air Arabia flights from Delhi and Mumbai land into Sharjah between 3-5 am and the hotels at Sharjah are offering these Indian guests an early check-in which they don’t get in Dubai or Abu Dhabi; so, the guests will not have to wait 5-6 hours before checking in. This will eventually be a gateway for guests to witness the luxury of Sharjah, they can have that one night stay in Sharjah and typically if they stay for one night they will be interested in staying for the second night as well because we have enough to offer for a full day program, we have fishermen’s market, the best desert safari happens in this side of Sharjah’s border.” Considering the fact that Sharjah is a dry Emirate, it is one of the biggest challenges to attract FIT’s and young crowd from India. And taking this into account Outbound Konnections is largely targeting senior citizens and school groups, “Sharjah is a very culturally and historically rich country which is definitely an added advantage for Sharjah over other Emirati’s. Sharjah has some of the best museums across Emirates and world’s biggest library which is unquestionably a point of attraction for school kids and senior groups. Being a dry Emirati, Sharjah is considered as a safe destination by parents who don’t hesitate sending their kids to Sharjah for a trip, another factor that has made Sharjah a favourite amongst kids is the cricket ground here; who can forget the IndiaPakistan match back in the day,” quoted Komal.
Furthermore to lift up Sharjah’s presence on Indian travellers itineraries, Outbound Konnections will be participating in a number of roadshows and the team Outbound Konnections has also planned on launching a social media page to increase the destination’s visibility. The team has also tied up with travel veterans who are experts at selling the UAE market in India. As of now both the tourism board and Outbound Konnections are not eyeing huge numbers from India markets, “India is a billion population country, there are still many travellers who want to travel for experience and not just shopping or nightlife. So even if we get that 2-3 per cent of target audience we will be very happy to achieve those number