sharjahThe Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) launched last week its series of promotional road shows in Istanbul. The Authority, in cooperation with Air Arabia and a number of representatives from the emirate’s tourism sector, plans to host these road shows in a number of Europe’s capital cities.

The launch ceremony was held at the Intercontinental Istanbul Hotel, and was attended by Professor Ahmet Emre Bilgili, Director of Culture and Tourism Istanbul, as well as H.E Mohammed Al Khouri, UAE Deputy Consul General to Turkey. Various leading travel and tourism companies and media representatives were also present.

The 10-day road show aims to attract more European tourists to the emirate of Sharjah by promoting Sharjah’s tourist attractions in three prime European destinations between 14 and 21 February 2010.

In his statement during a luncheon hosted by SCTDA to celebrate the launch, H.E Mohammed Ali Al Noman, Director General of the SCTDA, said that Sharjah – appointed the Cultural Capital of the Arab World by UNESCO in 1998, and the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2014 by the Organization of Islamic Conference – is still a leading cultural, heritage, business, leisure and tourism destination.

He pointed out that the emirate was home to the first airport in the Gulf region, which was opened in Sharjah in 1932, and which can be visited today as the Al Mahatta Museum. He added that Sharjah is also home to the UAE’s first official school, which was built in the 1950s and still exists as Al Eslah School in the Heritage Area, where over 16 museums are located. The emirate has since become home to many high-profile educational centers, most notably the American University of Sharjah and Sharjah University.

Al Noman added: “Under the leadership of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the emirate of Sharjah has built heritage centers that preserve its 5000 year old history. Sharjah has also been transformed into a modern oasis of development and progress. Sharjah is occupying a leading position on the world tourism map thanks to its tourism, historical and heritage attractions, as well as its entertaining and sporting activities and festivals, which attract tourists from all over the world.”

As Director General of the SCTDA, he touched on the tremendous growth achieved in the emirate’s tourism sector and the resounding success of the hotel classification law, which resulted in the outstanding growth of the hospitality sector in the emirate. “The SCTDA is seeking to oil the wheels of economic growth by increasing the marketing and promotional activities for Sharjah’s various tourist attractions, in line with the rapid progress achieved in the emirate’s tourism sector with the entry of a number of new hotel facilities to its hospitality market. The number of hotels and hotel apartments in the emirate of Sharjah has increased to 110, with over 8,000 hotel rooms available – a figure that reflects the rapid growth in the emirate’s tourism sector, particularly after the new hotel classification law came into force.”

In conclusion, Al Noman extended thanks to representatives of Air Arabia in Istanbul, travel and tourism companies, as well as Turkey’s media representatives, who participated in the event. He invited the attendees to visit Sharjah and enjoy its unique tourist attractions.

The SCTDA’s delegation has held a series of productive meetings with a number of public and private travel and tourism organizations in Turkey. These meetings resulted in the discovery of a number of mechanisms to enhance cooperation and tourism exchange. The results of the visit confirm the importance of presence in this important market and the necessity to introduce more offers to European tourists, in order to give further momentum to the emirate’s tourism sector.

The SCTDA is looking forward to achieving positive results in its upcoming promotional road shows in Bulgaria and Greece, where the Authority will aim to further raise awareness among the European tourism community on the attractiveness of Sharjah’s tourism products. Furthermore, it hopes to build positive relations that will contribute to expand the success of the emirate’s tourism sector and will boost the strategic partnerships and tourism/trade exchanges between Sharjah and Europe.

The emirate’s delegation to Europe included, in addition to the SCTDA, the Sharjah International Airport Authority, Radisson Blu Resort, and Golden Tulip Sharjah Hotel.