The Gulf Emirate of Qatar has witnessed dramatic economic growth and development in recent years, contributing directly and immensely to regional tourism market, especially to Sharjah which witnessed a remarkable 100 per cent increase in the number of Qatari visitors to the emirate over the past three years, said HE Mohamed Ali Al Noman, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority.

This came in his remarks on the occasion of Sharjah wrapping up a successful GCC road show on a high note in the Qatari capital Doha yesterday at a gathering of key players of the region’s tourism and hospitality sector.  After successful showcasing of Sharjah’s tourism and cultural offerings in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the GCC road show targeted the booming Qatari tourism market.

“Qatar is not just one of the fastest growing tourism market in the region, it is our biggest and most critical after Saudi Arabia and Oman.  Nearly 100,000 Saudi tourists visited Sharjah last year, followed by 54,000 from Oman and 35,000 from Qatar. The number of Qatari visitors to the emirate has more than doubled, from 17,000 in 2009 to 35,000 in 2011, over the past three years. This year could see more Qatari tourists visiting Sharjah. After all, we are close neighbors and Sharjah and the UAE enjoy close cultural and social ties going back a long time in history,” said Al Noman emphasising the need to capitalise on the growing regional interest in Sharjah and the UAE.

The SCTDA chairman said Sharjah expects greater number of visitors from Qatar and other Arab and Middle East countries this summer with various Sharjah government bodies, malls and hospitality industry lining up a series of special programmes and promotions for the holiday season.    “The Sharjah Summer Promotions, beginning May 31, with various indoor events and activities, are a major attraction this holiday season,” said Al Noman.

The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority headed a delegation of the emirate’s tourism and hospitality industry to the GCC states as part of its efforts to showcase Sharjah’s tourism market and attract more tourists from across the region.

“All this makes Sharjah, the Capital of Arab and Islamic Culture, a favourite tourism destination for both the Arab families and visitors from around the world,” said the SCTDA Chairman.

The GCC road show was hosted by the Authority in association with Air Arabia, the region’s favourite airline owned by Sharjah which now operates 120 flights a week connecting the emirate with the countries across the Middle East.

At the Riyadh Travel Fair held earlier this month and Kuwait and Qatar road shows, the travel and tourism industry leaders and representatives were briefed on various tourist attractions of the emirate and its year-long calendar of cultural offerings and world-renowned festivals and events.

The Sharjah International Book Fair, Sharjah Heritage Days, Sharjah Biennial and Ramadaniat Al Qasba etc., are some of the key events hosted by the emirate.  In addition to Air Arabia, Al Hamra Hotel, Hotel Holiday International, Ramada Sharjah and SATA took part in the SCTDA road shows in the Gulf emirates.