The crucial role of tourism and travel industry in empowering economies and generating economic opportunities is increasingly being recognised by governments, decision makers, investors, trade professionals and even ordinarypeople, said HE Mohamed Ali Al Noman, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority.

“Sharjah enjoys an ideal investment climate in accordance with the highest standards of tourism competitiveness. The tourism sector’s share in Sharjah’s GDP stood around 9 per cent in 2009, which has grown substantially ever since with the number of tourists to the emirate growing dramatically. And we expect and would like to see this grow further in months and years ahead,” said the SCTDA Chairman.

This came in his remarks following the inauguration of the World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit today, being held from April 9 to 10, 2013 in Abu Dhabi.  The Global Summit unites the travel and tourism leaders from across the world bringing together top representatives from the public and private sectors, NGOs and the media in a unique networking and discussion forum.

“Sharjah’s leadership had the vision to recognise this crucial role of a sustainable tourism model early on and work towards it by using the emirate’s incredibly rich and diverse cultural landscape, history and heritage to develop a tourism offering and experience that is now accepted as truly distinct,” emphasised Al Noman who is heading a team of dignitaries and senior officials from the emirate to the Abu Dhabi summit.

The SCTDA Chairman said he and his team are looking forward to the proceedings of the WTTC Global Summit in Abu Dhabi as it brings together more than 1000 world leaders, decision makers and highfliers of the tourism and travel industry who are here to deliberate on the sustainable tourism model and acute challenges and issues facing the world tourism industry today and chart future course of action at a time of global economic challenges.

The Abu Dhabi summit, being attended by world leaders such as former US President Bill Clinton, top media moguls and industry experts among others, is considered the most influential industry event of the year and offers an excellent platform for Sharjah to share its own experience and success on tourism front with the industry and learn from others, emphasised Al Noman.

He said Sharjah’s cultural approach to tourism coupled with its world-class, modern tourist infrastructure and all-welcoming friendly environment has earned the emirate a niche of its own and special clientele of discerning tourists from around the world, especially from Europe and the greater Middle East who are attracted to the emirate’s year-long calendar of colourful festivals, events and activities.  “The Sharjah approach to sustainable tourism is now being emulated by others in the region,”said Al Noman.

Welcoming the recent increase in international tourism numbers in Sharjah, he urged the public and private sectors to build on this success and make the most of the growing international interest in the emirate. He said Sharjah is an emirate rich in heritage and culture and yet with an increasingly modern and luxurious tourism infrastructure. “It’s not just heritage and culture; as a destination, Sharjah is as diverse as its physical landscape,” added Al Noman.

The Abu Dhabi Summit is aimed at exploring the implications of a dramatically changing world economy and growing population on the travel and tourism industry. Four months after the world celebrated its one billionth international traveller, it will examine what we need to do collectively to prepare for the next billion.