With traditional and even ancient structures, the grandeur of Sharjah fascinates every visitor. The emirate is all set to pitchfork itself on the global stage. HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority throws some light on how the destination caters to all shades of tourists whilst promoting its heritage.
Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority are expecting high numbers in the next five years. In order to achieve exciting numbers, Sharjah plans to promote three segments in India – these are ‘Culture and Heritage’, ‘Gastronomy’ and ‘Adventure’ which will lead to the emirate’s increase in popularity. Talking about some upcoming events and its impact on tourist numbers, HE Khalid shares, “The major event, Expo 2020 which is going to be held in UAE in October 2020, will provide a key opportunity for the tourism and hospitality industry in the country which will reflect a positive growth and give impetus to tourism in Sharjah as well. Additionally, the Emirate is going to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a series of activities and events in 2021, which will help us in achieving high numbers and reach our target of 10 million visitors by 2021.”
As indicated by the rising number of Indian tourists flocking to Sharjah’s tourism establishments, the events, festivals and lifestyle experiences are specifically designed to cater to the Indian travellers choice. SCTDA also took Sharjah’s tourism proposition to India’s travel trade earlier this year, attended leading Indian international travel exhibitions in New Delhi. He shares, “At SATTE 2019, we highlighted our upcoming projects such as the Novotel Hotel Sharjah, which will feature 200 rooms and suites including three restaurants, a health club, private suites, a business center, private workshops and two meeting rooms, including a 200 m² conference hall built according to the highest specifications, marking Sharjah hospitality’s expansion into the business hotel market. This project is strategically located near the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry and we will be opening it in August this year. We also introduced the Pullman hotel in Sharjah that has 188 rooms and suites and large meeting rooms, these premium developments reflect Sharjah’s hospitality sectors’ commitment to cater to Indian businesses.”
A fine balance between tradition and modernity is a key differentiating factor that sets Sharjah apart from other global tourism destinations. The emirate is the cultural capital of the region, due to its continuing focus on preserving and celebrating its rich cultural heritage. Sharing further, HE Khalid mentions, “The emirate has a long-standing reputation of being a family friendly destination as well. These achievements are further underscored by a series of recognitions the emirate has garnered, including UNESCO’s ‘Cultural Capital of the Arab World’ in 1998 and ‘World Book Capital 2019’ titles as well as the ‘Capital of Islamic Culture’ title in 2014.”
The emirate of Sharjah is well known for its role as a patron of fine arts, true cultural values and traditions. The emirate has successfully crafted a cultural identity that complements its Islamic roots, historic heritage, and the modern world. “In recent years, the increasing interest among nature-seekers prompted the sector to tap ways to further capitalise our natural sceneries and create a distinctive experience for visitors. We have also increased activities such as desert adventures, including trekking, stargazing, and camping. This aspect can be seen particularly in ‘The Heart of Sharjah’ project where a transformation of houses and buildings into art facilities, showrooms and museums or ateliers for calligraphers and artists has reworked the surroundings of the foundations of original Sharjah to find a place in the middle of the modern city,” asserts HE Khalid.
SCTDA in June and July organised roadshows along with meetings and workshops inviting leading travel and tour operators in each city that contributes to outbound travel from India-Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Lucknow. sharing further on the promotional strategies, HE Khalid says, “There have been numerous activities going on throughout the years such as organising meetings and workshops, familiarisation trips and participation in key exhibitions across India. We will continue to boost these efforts including advertisements in key markets and optimising our social media presence to increase engagement. Presentations were held on Sharjah during our roadshows and on the airline connectivity from India; new routes by Air Arabia were unveiled to educate travel partners about Sharjah and its offerings. The roadshows were followed by lucky draws offering multiple air tickets and networking dinners.”
“We have also conducted multiple media and trade fam trips. Along with this, we are also advertising in English and regional language newspapers and magazines – PAN India to attract more tourists. We have also initiated a number of social media campaigns and JMPs with prominent travel trade partners,” concludes HE Khalid.