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Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority unveils campaign to strengthen emirate’s leading position in family tourism

Date Published: Thursday, April 28, 2016 Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) has launched the ‘Sharjah My Family Destination’ campaign during its participation in the Arabian Travel Market 2016 currently being held at Dubai World Trade Centre. The announcement was made during a press conference organised by the Authority on its stand at the ATM in the presence of His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of SCTDA, Hana Al Suwaidi, Chairperson of the Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA), Ahmed Al Qaseer, COO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), and Aisha Deemas Director of Executive Affairs at Sharjah Museums Department, Mr Ian Phillips acting CEO of Sharjah National Hotels and Mr Jamal Abdulnazar from Cozmo Holidays as well as representatives from the local and international media. The conference highlighted the details of the campaign launched by the Authority to support the family tourism sector and strengthen Sharjah’s position as a leading destination for family tourism in the region. Addressing the press conference, HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa described family tourism as one of the major sectors of tourism and a key contributor to the growth of this industry in prominent destinations around the world. He added that family tourism represents 12.5% of the global tourism market, recording a total value of US$ 1.7 trillion in 2012. Family tourism is expected to achieve 4.8% annual growth worldwide, according to Crescentrating, the Singaporean website specialised in the field of travel and tourism. HE Al Midfa pointed out that the leading status of this sector in Sharjah is the outcome of the concerted efforts and integrated approach of all partners to achieve the common goal of promoting Sharjah’s events and festivals as well as its mega projects as major family attractions. As a result of all these efforts and initiatives, the hotel sector in the emirate recorded 100% occupancy during the spring holiday in the Gulf region. Significant tourist inflow has been witnessed from the Saudi market, which has emerged as the most important source of family tourism in the region, HE Al Midfa added. “As part of SCTDA’s pursuit to build on the achievements in the family tourism sector and develop it further, we are launching today the ‘Sharjah My Family Destination’ campaign to strengthen cooperation between the Authority and all our partners in the emirate’s tourism sector,” HE Al Midfa said. Speaking on the occasion, Hana Al Suwaidi said the Authority has opened several new environment tourism projects that offer innovative facilities for families in various cities of Sharjah, enhancing the emirate’s position as an ideal tourist destination for families. She noted that that these centres have received more than half a million visitors in the past year, most of them families. Al Suwaidi explained that Wasit Nature Reserve, a wetland which opened recently, is an ideal family destination that offers educational and cultural classes and facilities such as observation platforms. The Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre preserves the mountain environment and provides unique opportunities for families to closely understand nature in a fun-filled manner, she added. Al Suwaidi pointed out that the EPAA will contribute to raising Sharjah’s share in the family tourism market at a time when the emirate is witnessing a key stage in the growth and development of its tourism sector. On the occasion, HE Ahmed Al Qaseer said: “Since Shurooq’s inception in 2009, we’ve focused on incorporating family tourism initiatives into physical objects which are featured in our multiple tourism projects. Our primary objective when developing all our projects is to ensure the establishment and sustainability of facilities, project characterisation and services that cater to the demands of families and family tourists.” Al Qaseer said Shurooq has successfully implemented pioneering solutions in multiple tourism projects such as eco-tourism projects, archaeological tourism projects and cultural tourism projects. He said projects such as Al Majaz Waterfront, Al Qasba, Al Montazah Amusement and Water Park, Al Noor Island and the Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-tourism project have made Sharjah one of the leading destinations for families and family tourists. “Sharjah My Family Destination initiative is the closest we can get to the significance and importance which families and family tourism play in the development of our societies and businesses. Sharjah My Family Destination will position Sharjah as one of the leading cities in the world to focus on family tourism, and will open new doors for pioneering solutions that will sustain the emirate’s family-friendly environment,” Al Qaseer stated. He added that Shurooq will play a key role in supporting the initiative, and will study multiple objectives with SCTDA to explore new strategies and plans related to this campaign. Aisha Deemas said Sharjah Museums Department has 16 museums under its management, all of which collectively aim to deliver the highest museum standards to preserve collections and enhance an appreciation of culture and learning through exhibitions, educational and community programmes. “Our museums focus on providing unique discovery and learning experiences to all of our visitors, including community groups such as school and university students, various residents who may visit with groups of friends and family, as well as tourists who are looking for a cultural experience. One of our main aims is to cater to the vital area of family tourism. We achieve this through a wide range of activities including gallery talks, cultural discussions, interactive workshops, academic programmes and much more,” Deemas said. “We are committed to ensuring that all of our main museums, including Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah Science Museum, Sharjah Maritime Museum and others, provide an element of interactive activity to enhance the family experience. We believe that giving access to these opportunities that everyone can get involved in provides memorable experience that results in repeat visitors and positive feedback,” Deemas added. The ‘Sharjah My Family Destination’ campaign aims to introduce new tourism offers and packages by tour companies, hotels and leisure destinations for families visiting Sharjah from within and outside the country. It will establish direct communication with the public and family tourists through the Authority’s social media channels in order to learn about their requirements and enhance the development of Sharjah’s family tourism sector. SCTDA is launching this campaign in cooperation with Sharjah Investment and Development Authority ‘Shurooq’, Sharjah Museums Department, travel agencies, hotels and resorts as well as shopping malls.