Front office staff of Sharjah’s booming hospitality and tourism sector discovered a new and fascinating world this week when they enrolled themselves into a two-day orientation program conducted by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority.

The orientation program titled, Discover Sharjah, which concluded yesterday (Sunday, Sept 2), offered a rare peek into Sharjah’s past and its tourism industry to the 31 representatives of leading hotel establishments in the country.

The two-day schedule included lectures by experts and involved visits to Sharjah’s numerous landmarks, museums, art and cultural centres. Besides, field trips were undertaken to historical sites, monuments and tourist attractions in the emirate, offering an up close and personal view of Sharjah’s fast growing tourism industry. The focus was on both the rich past and present of the city state celebrated as the Cultural Capital of the Arab and Islamic world.

Commenting on the orientation campaign, SCTDA Chairman HE Mohamed Ali Al Noman stressed that the Authority has been making constant efforts to raise awareness about Sharjah’s distinct tourism market and product among those who are closely associated with the industry.

“It’s important for these tourism sector representatives to know their destination and get familiar with the changes and developments in Sharjah’s tourism market. They are the first and last point of contact with visitors and play a critical role in perceptions about the emirate and its tourism product and services. Thus they have an important role to play in communicating and interacting with foreign visitors. They are indeed our eyes and ears. This is why the Authority is keen to enhance the skills, knowledge and understanding of the employees of its tourism sector partners,” said Al Noman. Some of the prominent hotels represented included Sharjah National Hotels, Hilton Sharjah, Sharjah Rotana Hotel, Royal Hotel and Beach Hotel.

Al Noman pointed out that the latest orientation program comes close to the Eid Al Adha celebrations, besides upcoming big events such as Sharjah International Book Fair in November and the Sharjah Water Festival and the UIM F1H2O World Championship in December. The emirate attracts large number of tourists this time of the year from across the region and the world.

An important item on the agenda was the Sharjah Museum of Natural History, an interactive, high-tech museum profiling the region’s natural history with displays of desert and marine ecosystems. Dr Sheikh Sultan Al Qassimi Center of Gulf Studies, the treasure house of comprehensive historical and geographical information tracing the development, history and heritage of life in the Arabian Gulf also figured in the itinerary.

The tour also included Al Qasba, Al Majaz Waterfront, Central Souq, Sharjah Museum for Islamic Civilization, Sharjah Aquarium, Sharjah Equestrian Club, Al Mahatta Museum, Classic Cars Museum, Heritage Museum and Sharjah Discovery Center.

The trainees were also treated to a memorable walk along the old Arts and Heritage Areas where they were briefed on the Heart of Sharjah project. Along the way, they passed through prominent landmarks such as Sharjah Heritage Museum, Beit Al Naboodah, Sharjah Calligraphy Museum, Al Eslah School, Souq Al Arsa and Majlis Al Midfa. This is the second such orientation program conducted for the SCTDA’s tourism partners this year.