Sharjah put up an impressive show at Asia’s biggest tourism and travel event, ITB Singapore, attracting the attention and interest of the fast expanding Asian tourism market as well as the large, multicultural population of the island nation.   The 3-day exhibition, held from October 17 to 19 at Singapore’s iconic Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre, attracted considerable interest of local visitors as well as leaders and representatives of the region’s tourism industry in what Sharjah had to offer at its attractive stand.

“Asia has lately emerged as the largest tourism market in the world with the Chinese and other visitors from the region leading from the front.  This is why the Singapore exhibition has assumed such critical importance in recent years with all major tourism markets looking to exploit its massive potential,” said HE Mohamed Ali Al Noman, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority.    He said he was happy with the positive response the emirate has received at the ITB Singapore.

Citing World Travel and Tourism Council president David Scowsill’s speech at the opening ceremony suggesting Asia remained the single biggest driver of the growth in the global travel and tourism industry, Al Noman said that today no tourism market can afford to ignore the immense potential of Asian market.

The WTTC has forecast a six per cent growth for the overall region during 2012, which is triple the growth of Europe. Tourism research organization PhoCusWright on the other hand suggested that Asia Pacific will remain the fastest-growing travel region in 2013 with the market expected to be worth an estimated $357 billion next year.

“These are important and interesting numbers showing us the way forward.  Sharjah is keen to tap this vast market.  Sharjah and the UAE are already home to a huge Asian population and have historic cultural and commercial relations with the region going way back in time. Sharjah and Singapore also have a great deal to share and benefit from each other’s experience and expertise,” said Al Noman urging the emirate’s tourism sector to make the most of the opportunities presented by Asian growth.

On the day two of the exhibition, UAE Ambassador to Singapore HE Mohamed A Al Qubaisi and Consular Abdallah Al Shamsi visited Sharjah’s stand at the ITB. They were received by Al Noman and other Sharjah government officials.  The visiting dignitaries were briefed on Sharjah’s presence at ITB Singapore over the years and efforts being made to attract Asian tourists to the emirate.

The number of Asian tourists to Sharjah shot up in the first few months of this year. While the emirate had received 136,31 tourists from Asia until August, visitors from Singapore accounted for 7,121 as against 6,197 tourists during the same period last year, which is a 15 pc increase.

Delegates and visitors to the emirate’s stand lauded the Sharjah model of tourism and its strategy of promoting heritage and hosting a number of world-class, popular cultural events and festivals like the Sharjah Water Festival, F1H2O Powerboat World Championship and Sharjah Light Festival etc.

The Sharjah delegation included top Sharjah government officials as well as representatives of the  travel and tourism industry including the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Sharjah International Airport, Hotel Ramada and Golden Tulip. This was Sharjah’s fourth participation in the Singapore exhibition.  Some 850 exhibitors and more than 12,000 delegates representing 72 countries took part in the exhibition spread over 12,000 square metres and overlooking the picturesque Marina Bay.