SHARJAH, UAE — Sharjah’s hospitality sector continued to thrive this year despite the slowdown in global financial markets as tourist arrivals and the hotel occupancy level recorded a double-digit growth in April.
The emirate’s tourism sector continues its pace of growth, registering a remarkable 11 per cent year-on-year rise in guest numbers at hotels and hotel apartments in April, according to April Statistics Report released by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, or SCTDA, on Sunday.
The occupancy rate in the emirate’s hotels and hotel apartments recorded an overall 78 per cent occupancy level — 82 per cent in hotels and 69 per cent in hotel apartments — whereas in April 2010 the occupancy rate had been 72 per cent — 80 per cent occupancy for hotels and 64 per cent for hotel apartments, the report said.
“The sustained development process the emirate has been undergoing in various services sectors and foreign investment and capital it is attracting are directly influencing and boosting tourism services in the emirate making it a perfect base for tourism investments,” Mohamed Ali Al Noman, Director-General of the SCTDA, said in an e-mailed statement to Khaleej Times on Sunday. He referred to the number of the hotels and hotel apartments in the emirate, which has reached 103 — 44 hotels and 59 hotel apartments.
“A number of new hotels and resorts are in the process of being launched soon such as the Khor Fakkan Resort and Spa with 170 suites and Oceanic Hotel overlooking Khor Fakkan beaches which is being renovated,” he said.
The number of guests at Sharjah’s hotels and hotel apartments in April 2011 stood at 143,341 — 80,459 hotel guests and 62,882 hotel apartment guests — compared to 129,046 guests in April 2010, recording a steep 11 per cent growth.
The statistics report also shows a 23 per cent increase in the room nights’ occupancy rate over last April, which recorded 171,703 nights in comparison with 140,060 nights in April 2010. The room nights’ occupancy in hotels reached 93,956 nights this April while it recorded 79,227 nights during the same time last year. The room nights’ occupancy in hotel apartments recorded 77,747 nights during April 2011 while it was 60,833 nights during April 2010.
Al Noman attributed the growth in visitor numbers to the successful promotional strategy of the emirate.
“The various promotional and advertising campaigns and events that the authority has been constantly organising are aimed at boosting tourism growth in the emirate and fulfill the sector’s needs,” he said. “We are targeting all markets — local, regional and international — and are constantly encouraging tourism players to make greater efforts to keep pace with the progress in the tourism industry worldwide. The Sharjah Tourism Excellence Awards, presented by the Authority every year, is part of this strategy.”
Al Noman said that various cultural, entertainment and sports events and festivals hosted by Sharjah have generated tremendous interest in the emirate and been successful in bringing visitors from around the world. “In April, for example, Sharjah celebrated traditional heritage with the event, Sharjah Heritage Days, attracting thousands of local and international tourists and visitors. International events such as the Sharjah Water Festival and Sharjah Light Festival etc have increased the tourist flow into the emirate.”
Al Qasba, Sharjah’s premier leisure and cultural destination, has registered a huge turnout of tourists — 553,910 visitors between January and April this year — and the number of visitors is expected to soar to two million in the coming sunny months.
Al Noman attributed the success of Sharjah’s promotional strategy to the coordination between public and private sectors. “The statistics report findings will give further fillip to tourism sector and help us meet our goals for the remainder of this year. That is, boost investments in the emirate in all sectors to maintain Sharjah’s position as a unique tourist destination in the region and the world.”