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Al Midfa: SCTDA keen to support best practices in tourism to enhance contribution of sector to emirate’s economy

Date Published: Wednesday, January 13, 2016 Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) organised the third edition of the Hospitality Industry Forum, participated by experts and industry professionals from the tourism, hospitality and economy sectors. The Forum reviewed the latest developments and the performance of the hotel sector in the emirate of Sharjah, and highlighted the best practices and solutions for sustainable development of the hospitality and tourism sectors in Sharjah. Addressing the forum, His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa Chairman of SCTDA, praised His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, for motivating the development of the tourism sector and encouraging the promotion of the cultural aspects of the emirate in major international markets. He said the Emirate of Sharjah has succeeded in strengthening its position on the regional and global tourism map, and charted a leading position as one of the most popular tourist destinations for visitors from all over the world. HE Al Midfa also thanked the concerted efforts of partners in the tourism sector, stating that their support has been critical in helping Sharjah take great strides in the development of its tourism capabilities. He said a series of ambitious joint development initiatives and projects have set a strong foundation for the sector, enabling the emirate to take confident steps towards the future. “In spite of the efficient infrastructure as well as the high quality of services provided by Sharjah to the visitors, it is important to take the process of development in the tourism sector to new levels in order to keep pace with the global market requirements. We need to constantly monitor our progress to sustain the gains achieved and look ahead to new horizons of growth and excellence to fully realise the opportunities in this sector,” HE Al Midfa pointed out. HE Al Midfa said the Hospitality Industry Forum has gained considerable significance as a major platform that brings together experts and professionals related to the integrated tourism system comprising hotel facilities, airlines, travel and tourism agencies and other sectors directly dealing with visitors and tourists. “The services and facilities provided by the various entities in these segments are critical to ensuring a distinctive tourism experience in Sharjah,” he said. HE Al Midfa pointed out that the Hospitality Industry Forum offered SCTDA an opportunity to review the best practices to take the concept of partnership and cooperation to the next level and ensure a new momentum in tourist flow to enable the tourism sector to play its key role as one of the most important sectors of the emirate’s economy. HE Al Midfa said the Forum has enabled Sharjah to take advantage of the positive trends witnessed in the tourism sector in recent years with considerable growth in the number of tourists from European market, especially from British and German markets. He also pointed to the emirate’s growing popularity in the markets of Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the Chinese and Indian markets. The list of speakers at the Forum included a group of experts from the field of hospitality and tourism sectors in UAE, including Dillip Rajakarier, Chief Executive Officer, Minor Hotel Group and Chief Operating Officer of Minor International; Mr Elie J Armaly Director of Business Development at Sharjah Investment and Development Authority; Dr. Mahmoud Al Iriani, Economic Advisor at the Economic Policy Research Center, Dubai Economic Council. The Forum was also participated by Philip Shepherd, Middle East Hospitality & Leisure Leader at PwC; Gurdish Bassi, Project Director and Economist at GRMC Advisory Services; Dr. Prakash Chathoth, Professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Philip Wooller, Area Director- Middle East and Africa at STR Global; Carl Palmlund, Senior Vice President and Senior Partner at INHOCO Group; and Dr. Amr Saleh, a professor of political economy and economic adviser to the Department of Economic Development in Sharjah. Hospitality Industry Forum sessions discussed several key areas related to tourism and hospitality sector. The first session covered the major challenges facing the sector, and looked at ways to attain sustainability and smart solutions. The second session discussed the impact of statistics on the performance of the hotels and how to use them. The Forum also reviewed the performance of the hospitality sector in the emirate of Sharjah during 2015, and honoured participants from various agencies for their contributions to the sector.