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Sharjah’s Drive To Expand Tourism Offerings Highlighted In Latest Global Platform Interview
(19 August 2018)
Online broadcast reveals details of emirate’s plans to add to cultural calendar

 

Sharjah’s plans to boost visitor numbers by adding new activities to the calendar of cultural events and developing niche markets were among the plans revealed by His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, during his recent interview on the Oxford Business Group’s online broadcasting channel, Global Platform.

During the interview, which can now be downloaded on https://oxfordbusinessgroup.com/video/khalif-jasim-al-midfa-chairman-sharjah-commerce-and-tourism-development-authority, Al Midfa said that while key events, such as the Sharjah International Book Fair, the Sharjah Light Festival and the Formula 1 Powerboat World Championship, regularly attract high numbers of visitors, there is still plenty of scope to expand the emirate’s tourism offering.

“We see that at certain periods of time during the year, we can still include new dimensions to our calendar that can complement our tourism business,” he explained. “We are adding the Sharjah Summer Festival and are planning to launch another festival or activity by end-2018 to cater to different audiences and to attract people from within the UAE and the neighbouring countries.”

Al Midfa noted that Sharjah had its own individual attractions and unique selling points that could be promoted through such activities while the wider UAE also benefited collectively from being able to offer tourists a variety of destinations that are complementary and within easy reach of one another. Such concerted efforts would enhance the UAE’s appeal as an interesting destination for tourists seeking variety and diversity of offerings.

“In some other countries, you need to fly to see these different products,” he told Global Platform. “Here we have them within a two-to-three-hour drive, and the product and identity of each destination is different.”

Al Midfa also highlighted the key role that tourism plays – serving as a driver of broader growth, which, he said, was particularly important for markets like the UAE that are moving to diversify their economy.

“Tourism brings in new people, brings in new money to the economy, brings in new potential for business and investment,” he said. “When people get to know the place, they have an appetite for investing in this country and in this part of the world.” 

He voiced his confidence that Sharjah was on track to meet its target of welcoming 10 million visitors by 2021, while emphasising the pivotal role that new infrastructure would play in ensuring this and other objectives are achieved.

“Infrastructural development plays a vital role in the progress and development of a destination,” he said. “Sharjah International Airport has the capacity to receive almost 10 million passengers at present, which will grow to 25 million passengers within the next five years with the new expansion plan.”

Focusing on hotel capacity, Al Midfa told Global Platform that more than 5,000 rooms were expected to be added to the 10,000 already available by 2021.

“Significantly, we have a number of international hotel operators that are interested in Sharjah, and this is critical to any destination,” he said.

Marc-André de Blois, OBG’s Director of PR and Video Content, said the interview showed that while Sharjah is already a well-established destination with a clear identity, the emirate is also committed to broadening its tourism industry.

“Although Sharjah has already established itself as a destination with a unique cultural history, the emirate is clearly keen to tap into new niche markets through highlighting its other attractions, which range from mangroves to kayaking and mountain-biking opportunities on the east coast,” he said. “I’m delighted that viewers have the opportunity to hear first-hand about these exciting developments and learn more about the steps being taken to meet the rising demand for experiential tourism.”

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