posted on 26/08/2012: 719 views
The growth of Sharjah's hotel industry would enable the emirate to target new tourism markets in continents such as the America and Australia, says Mohammed Ali Al Noman, Director General of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority.
Speaking to The Gulf Today during the week, Al Noman disclosed that Sharjah currently records 80 per cent hotel occupancy. The current figure of 9,000 rooms is set to rise to a total of 13,000 in the next few years, he added.
He also drew attention to the challenges and opportunities faced by the tourism sector in Sharjah, particularly eco-tourism. He said tourism in Sharjah has positively outpaced the momentum of the previous years, thanks to the directives of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
Offering an overview of the current and future outlook of tourism in Sharjah, Al Noman pointed out that approximately 1.6 million tourists currently visit the emirate each year.
Of these, close to 30 per cent come in from the East Asian and European countries, especially Germany and Russia. He contrasted this with 650,000 tourists who visited Sharjah in the year 2000, 40 per cent of whom were travellers from the Gulf countries.
Meanwhile, Sharjah Media Centre, the official media entity of the government of Sharjah functioning under the umbrella of Sharjah Media Corporation, recently held a session titled "The Promotion of Sharjah's Cultural, Environmental and Tourism Sectors”.
Held under the patronage and in the presence of His Excellency Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Corporation, the session highlighted the challenges faced by the eco-tourism industry. It also explored ways to attract more projects to Sharjah with the goal of driving the emirate's tourism sector to its next growth trajectory.
Three major environmental and tourism projects were announced during the session, which included the Al Hafya Educational Reserve Centre, an enclosure for mountain dwelling animals, the first-of-its-kind exhibition centre that will remain open throughout the year showcasing predator birds and animals, and a purpose-built recreational water park project for families. Marwan bin Jassim Al Serkal unveiled details about the Al Majaz Waterfront Entertainment Project, noting that it will be the first project to be opened by Shurooq.
He stressed that Al Majaz Waterfront had been transformed from a park on the Khalid lagoon and currently features tourist attractions such as a musical fountain, fine dining restaurants, recreational facilities and venues for diverse events.
Al Majaz Waterfront has been transformed into a leading tourist destination in Sharjah. It will also attract more residents and visitors, which will have a positive impact on Sharjah ís economy, according to Marwan bin Jassim Al Serkal, Chief Executive Officer of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq).
Al Serkal added that Sharjah has earmarked several new tourist-friendly areas for development. The Al Sabha district, for instance, will be shaped into a key ecological zone through maintaining its existing environmental life.
The Maliha region has also been identified as a potential tourist attraction. In addition, a water park, which is being developed in cooperation with a local development company, will evolve into an entertainment and tourism centre for family and children featuring water slides up to a height of 30 metres.
The Environment and Natural Reserves Authority undertakes major developmental projects that prioritise the provision of natural landscape and the migration of birds and other animals, besides raising awareness on the flora and fauna, explained Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, Director General of Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) during the recent session. Al Suwaidi reiterated that the Wasit Reserve Rehabilitation project, which was converted from a landfill into a reserve, contains dozens of protected birds including the grey swan that has returned to the reserve after a hiatus of ten years. – The Gulf Today
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