Sharjah-realestateThe Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority has unveiled its tourism statistics for the first half of Year 2014, showing a significant increase in the number of visitors to the Emirate touching one million mark. It is a 15 per cent jump over the same period last year when the Emirate received 955,355 tourists, underscoring the continuing, sustained growth of the tourism sector in the emirate, according to HE Mohamed Ali Al Noman, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority.

The H1 statistics reflect a stable occupancy of nearly 74 per cent in hotels even during the normally low season summer months in the Emirate of Sharjah.   In terms of stay, hotel establishments recorded 1,817,416 guest nights that included 110,621 guest nights for hotels and 711,206 guest nights for hotel apartments.

The half yearly results show an encouraging 6% increase in the guest nights in hotels for the low season which indicates that 2014 will be a good year for returning very positive growth figures.

According to the SCTDA statistics, European tourists once again came out on top. Sharjah received 409,578 European visitors in the first half of 2014 accounting for 37 per cent of the total number of tourists. The Russian tourists formed 25 per cent of the total number of European visitors.

The second spot was taken by visitors from the GCC or Gulf states. Sharjah received 369,485 visitors from the Gulf states, accounting for 34 per cent of the total share of tourists.

They were followed by Asian tourists at 13 per cent and visitors from other Arab countries at 12 per cent.  The nationals from the Americas, Africa and the Pacific accounted for 5 per cent.

The total number of hotel facilities in Sharjah stands at 106 (50 hotels and 56 hotel apartments). The number of hotel rooms has touched 10,000. The Emirate has been making efforts to boost and expand the hotel industry capacity by encouraging international investors and hotel groups to invest in the hospitality sector in order to raise the number of hotel rooms to at least 14,000 in near future. Growth in hotel rooms shows renewed confidence by investors in Sharjah’s tourism industry.

Commenting on the H1 statistics, SCTDA Chairman Al Noman observed that these positive results confirm the growing profile of Sharjah in the region and the world as a pioneering family, cultural and leisure tourism destination with world-class infrastructure, celebrated heritage, museums, shopping centers and many avenues of leisure.

He attributed the continuing growth of the sector to the cooperation provided by the authorities and through the continued collaboration of all stake holders to power the tourism sector by targeting new tourism markets in the region and the world.

Al Noman said that the SCTDA’s strategy of showcasing the latest attractions in the Emirate in major international exhibitions and its year-long road shows in major cities and capitals of the Gulf, Asia and Europe and tourism cooperation agreements with global players have all helped in attracting more tourists and investors to the Emirate.

The SCTDA Chairman paid tribute to the first half of the year being very busy for Sharjah with the Emirate hosting a series of international festivals and events to mark the crowning of Sharjah as the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2014.  Events like the Sharjah Light Festival, which highlighted the grandeur of the emirate’s Islamic architecture, and the special presentation ‘Clusters of Light’ at the Al Majaz Island Amphitheatre celebrating the journey of Islam and the glorious life of the Prophet, peace be upon him, the Sharjah Heritage Days and Sharjah Spring Promotions etc., have also helped attract a large number of visitors to the emirate.

Al Noman expressed confidence that the second half of the year will continue the growth trend by attracting more visitors with a number of special events and activities lined up by the emirate and special discounted rates offered by the hotel industry and malls during the long holiday season.

The SCTDA Chairman emphasised that these encouraging results provide even more reasons for the government and private sector in the tourism sector to work even harder to achieve greater successes and growth in months ahead, especially with Sharjah being celebrated as the Capital of Arab Tourism for 2015.

Sharjah’s year-long celebrations marking the honour of the Capital of Arab Tourism next year will include the best of international festivals, exhibitions, workshops and seminars. The spotlight will certainly be on the Emirate’s distinct tourism product, cultural and heritage attracting large numbers of tourists from around the world.