The Third UAE-Korea Economic Partnership Forum that opens tomorrow will help provide a direct impetus to the travel and tourism industry in Sharjah and the UAE by way of more Korean and Asian tourists and investments in the promising tourism and hospitality sector, said HE Mohamed Ali Al Noman, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority.

This came in the SCTDA Chairman’s statement on the eve of the Third UAE-Korea Economic Partnership Forum, being held in the South Korean capital Seoul on May 27 and 28.

The Sharjah delegation to the third partnership summit is organized by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority and headed by HE Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Corporation and Sharjah Media Centre. The delegation includes besides SCTDA, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Sharjah Media Centre, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Sharjah Healthcare City.

Al Noman said that while the number of Asian and Korean tourists to Sharjah has grown in recent years, there is immense potential to attract more visitors and investors from across Asia, especially Far East region which is home to some of the fastest growing economies and expanding tourism markets such as South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia besides the big players like China and Japan. Last year, Sharjah received more than 227,554 tourists from Asia, which is 13 per cent of the total number of its international guests.

“We have to build on these encouraging trends and initiatives like the UAE-Korea Economic Partnership Forum offer a great opportunity to do so,” said Al Noman. Pointing out to the healthy economic and trade relations between South Korea and the UAE and Sharjah, Al Noman said this has to be expanded to the tourism sector which is the fastest growing in the Middle East.

In this respect he emphasised that the SCTDA has already been targeting the Asian tourism market for years by showcasing Sharjah in international trade exhibitions such as ITB Singapore and the Beijing International Tourism Expo.

Al Noman called upon all stake holders in the public and private sectors of the emirate to work together to exploit the excellent opportunity presented by the Seoul summit.

“South Korea is our important economic and trading partner. And Sharjah, as the region’s leading economic and trade and tourism hub will play an important part in the UAE-Korea Economic Partnership Forum,” asserted Al Noman.

The third UAE-Korea Economic Partnership Forum seeks to foster and fortify special economic partnerships with South Korea in different sectors to generate more economic and investment opportunities and cooperation between the two countries.

South Korea is one of the most important trade and investment partners of the UAE with a number of South Korean companies operating out of the UAE.

South Korea ranks tenth in the total non-oil foreign trade of the UAE. Foreign trade between South Korea and the UAE stood at Dh23.7 billion in 2011, and South Korean firms and investors have played a crucial role in leveraging the UAE’s advantages as a regional economic and trade hub.