Coverage in the British media focused on the activities at the Sharjah stand, and shed light on the emirate’s tourism attractions, particularly its distinct culture and heritage, which are particularly important to European tourists in general, and British tourists in particular.

Speaking to the British media, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), said that Sharjah’s tourism sector is expected to bounce back after a period of decline arising due to the global financial crisis in mid-2008, and continue to grow rapidly.

Said Al Qassimi: “The tourism sector in Sharjah experienced four percent growth in Q3 2009 compared to Q1 of the same year. This increase in growth will help the emirate achieve great returns that will contribute to a further increase in growth rates and make up for the losses resulting from the global depression”.

He added, “Sharjah will continue to establish tourism oriented projects and developments to attract tourists and investors, despite the global financial crisis. The first of these projects will be announced in Q1 2010”.

Al Qassimi noted that the tourism sector is one of Sharjah’s most active sectors, attracting the attention of numerous international organisations and institutions due to its diversity and depth. In addition, Sharjah’s historical attractions, moderate climate and beautiful natural environment continue to attract tourists and investors, and hotel occupancy in the emirate during Q3 2009 reached 75 percent, which is approximately the same as that attained last year.

Al Qassimi believes that the attention drawn by Sharjah’s stand at WTM exhibition, one of the biggest tourism-oriented exhibitions in the world, reflects the importance of Sharjah’s tourism product, which led to the number of tourists visiting the emirate doubling in the last five years. “The emirate of Sharjah, under the wise leadership of H.H. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, takes a special interest in the tourism sector, as the emirate tries to strengthen the interactive relation between infrastructure development and the diverse factors that attract visitors, which will result in greater returns for the national economy.”

“The SCTDA has gone to great lengths to achieve its goals and promote the emirate of Sharjah through participation in international events such as WTM, in which we are participating for the sixth consecutive time. We are confident that these efforts will lead to economic development for Sharjah, which is regarded as a fine example of a new tourism experience that combine the modern and the historical to create a rich and unique tourism product,” he added.

Al Qassimi concluded by saying: “The success we have achieved today in this world-class event motivates us to work even harder for the sustainable growth of Sharjah’s tourism sector, which is one of the main contributors to the emirate’s Gross Domestic Product.”