sharjahThe Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) has released detailed statistics on the performance of Sharjah’s tourism sector for the second half of 2009. According to the statistics, the number of visitors to Sharjah picked up by nine percent during this period, which balanced out the 15 percent decline experienced in the first half of the year due to the effects of the financial crisis on the global tourism sector.

During 2009, the number of hotels and hotel apartments in the emirate of Sharjah increased by seven percent to 110 (41 hotels and 69 hotel apartments), as compared to 103 (37 hotels and 66 hotel apartments) in 2008. Accordingly, the total number of available rooms rose to 8,727 in 2009 (4,275 hotel rooms and 4,452 hotel apartment rooms), a 14 percent increase from the 7,647 rooms (3,896 hotel rooms and 3,751 hotel apartment rooms) that were available in 2008

Despite the global financial crisis and its impact on the world’s tourism sector in 2009, Sharjah’s hotel occupancy rate suffered a mere 11 percent decline from 80 percent in 2008 to 69 percent in 2009, taking into account the dramatic 14 percent increase in the number of additional rooms made available throughout 2009. The hotel occupancy rate in Sharjah was 74 percent in 2009, only marginally lower than the 86 percent occupancy rate recorded in 2008, while the occupancy in hotel apartments was 64 percent in 2009 and 72 percent in 2008.

Figures show that the total number of occupied room nights in Sharjah’s hotel establishments dropped by only three percent in 2009 to 1,462,165 – down from 1,504,859 nights in 2008, with hotel room nights accounting for 790,900 of the 2009 total (down from 882,599 in 2008) and hotel apartment room nights accounting for the remaining 671,265 room nights (up from 622,260 in 2008).

The total number of guests staying in the emirate’s hotels and hotel apartments was down to 1,447,934 in 2009, a six percent decline compared to the 1,535,234 guests reported in 2008. This included 748,677 guests staying in hotels (down from 824,135 in 2008), and 699,257 guests staying in hotel apartments (down from 711,099 in 2008).

According to the SCTDA’s statistics, the 608,281 European tourists accounted for 42 per cent of total tourist arrivals to the emirate in 2009, while GCC tourists accounted for 23 percent (327,916), tourists from other Arab countries for 11 percent, and tourists from Asian countries for 15 percent (218,515), with the remaining nine percent was made up of six percent African tourists (88,596), two percent tourists from the US (28,774) and one percent tourists from the Pacific region (19,242).

Commenting on the SCTDA’s report, H.E. Mohamed A. Al Noman, SCTDA Director General, stressed that Sharjah’s leading position on the global tourism map can be seen from the minor decline witnessed in the emirate’s tourism performance in 2009 compared to other regions in the world. He credited this excellent performance and the increase in the number of hotels and hotel apartments to the mutual strategic planning carried out by different economic sectors within the emirate.

“We deeply believe in Sharjah’s tourism brand, which is distinguished from other regions by such attractions as high profile cultural, heritage, entertainment and sporting activities that are organized in the emirate throughout the year, the cohesive family atmosphere, and the multitude of attractions, such as museums and heritage sites, which attract visitors from all over the world to Sharjah”.

“Under the prudent directives of H.H. Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and with the follow-up and support of H.H. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Bin Sultan Al Qassimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, we will continue with our promotional campaigns, and will introduce Sharjah’s unique tourism product to tourists all over the world by taking part in world’s largest tourism gatherings, both locally and internationally. We plan to launch new activities that take into account the changes in the global economy as well as the new tourism trends and needs, of which we are fully aware,” Al Noman added.

He concluded his statement by reaffirming the emirate’s determination to further expand its presence in the local, regional and international tourism markets by utilizing all the natural and human resources available in the emirate of Sharjah and the surrounding regions on the Eastern Coast at Dibba Al Hisn, Khorfakkan and Kalba.