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H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa: The emirate is reaping the benefits of the forward-thinking initiatives, bold projects and campaigns we have been working on all year.

Date Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 Guests from all around the world spent a total of 4 ,021,069 guest nights in Sharjah’s hospitality establishments in 2016 – a 17% increase from 2015 – according to statistics released by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) as it prepares for the Arabian Travel Market, 2017. Hotels and hotel apartments generated AED685 million in revenue as Sharjah welcomed a 1.8 million guests into its accommodation sector in 2016, increasing the emirate-wide occupancy rate by 17% against the previous year. His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of SCTDA said: “The year 2016 brought many achievements and successes to Sharjah. The emirate is reaping the benefits of the forward-thinking initiatives, new investments, bold projects and campaigns that are all aligning to increase Sharjah’s brand and profile on the global stage as we translate the directives and vision of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, member of the supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah to enhance the emirates status as a regional and a global destination. Throughout 2016, the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority initiated an active programme of roadshows covering major cities in China, India, and Saudi Arabia, in addition to taking part in prominent travel exhibitions in key generating regions, including Russia, Europe, China and the GCC. These countries have retained their spots among the top ten source markets for Sharjah, with China and Russia registering double-digit growth rates in 2016.” Sharjah Tourism has strategically based its growth strategies for 2016 on GCC, India, Russia, China with spare capacity soaked up by European markets. The new statistics underscore the success of this focused approach. The Authority has opened representative offices in these countries and fully expects even higher returns as a result throughout 2017 / 18. The GCC continues to dominate the list of Sharjah’s source regions for the tourism sector, sending 450,388 visitors to the emirate in 2016, which amounts to a quarter (25%) of all inbound traffic. There were distinct spikes in numbers coinciding with the campaigns run in the region, including online, TV, shopping centres and radio and the Authority will work to keep these spikes in visitor numbers even more active for 2017. The Asia markets have continued to grow throughout 2016 it will remain a strategic growth segment for the next three years, currently the second-largest source region to Sharjah in 2016 – accounting for 23% of all visitors to the emirate last year. This market constitutes a 9% increase from the 370,528 Asian visitors who came to the emirate in 2015. The third-largest source region was Europe, sending 348,570 visitors to the emirate (20% of all visitors to Sharjah) in 2016. The individual source countries have changed reflecting economic and political changes in the region but the overall balance of numbers remains stable for example in 2016 the UK market overtook Germany. Non-GCC Arab countries came in fourth as a source region for Sharjah’s tourism sector, with 262,027 tourists visiting the emirate in 2016 (15% of the total number). Meanwhile, the Americas, Africa, and Australia & the Pacific sent 51,222, 39,137, and 6,765 tourists to Sharjah, respectively, in 2016. Country-wise, Oman, and Saudi Arabia were the top two source markets overall, sending 229,699 and 162,168 visitors to Sharjah, respectively, in 2016. The UAE domestic staycation market remains buoyant with 216,380 guests and there are certainly further opportunities for growth to reflect the destination infrastructure and active events market in the emirate. In fourth place with 150,036 visitors was India. The Authority has identified India as an opportunity for significant growth and this will be explored with key outbound operators like Cox and Kings and Thomas Cook throughout 2017. This year’s statistics were interesting as the figures from Russia are showing a 12% increase on 2016 with opportunities for further growth as the country starts to show considerable rebound from its earlier economic situation. China is continuing to make impressive growth and the investment placed there has been reflected with another big increase of 63% on 2015 visitor figures into Sharjah although it is still only Sharjah’s sixth biggest market with on-going investment it will continue to offer opportunities to Sharjah. With the investment in an overseas representative office based on the east China, and Air Arabia securing the western region with their flight routes, we will continue to expect creditable increases in arrival figures. China still holds its world reputation as the biggest generator of outbound tourists globally and all indications are that Sharjah’s product is attractive to Chinese tourists so we are confident of driving numbers even higher throughout 2017. In seventh place, Pakistan sent 64,724 visitors to Sharjah in 2016 – a 12% increase from 2015. Rounding up the top ten, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria sent 61,074, 42,862, and 42,590 visitors to Sharjah in 2016 – for Jordan, this marked a remarkable 17% growth from the number of travellers in 2015. The Authority continues to have an active programme of promotion for 2017 and is leading a high-profile delegation of influential stakeholders in Sharjah’s travel and tourism sector at ATM. SCTDA has prominent pavilion at the travel market, where it is promoting Sharjah’s diversity as a tourism product, for the first time the stand features a new element promoting ‘Natural Sharjah’ and all the available opportunities for enjoying outdoor tourism in the emirate. Sharjah continues to underline its promotion as a family destination that offers unparalleled opportunity to experience a unique cultural, and leisure destination.