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H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa

Q& A With H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority

WHEN TRAVELLING, THE IMPORTANCE OF SHARING EXPERIENCES BECOMES A FAMILY MATTER.

SHARJAH OFFERS A PLETHORA OF RETAIL AND CULINARY OPTIONS AS WELL AS WATERSPORTS, AMONG OTHER ACTIVITIES.

H.E. KHALID JASIM AL MIDFA, CHAIRMAN, SHARJAH COMMERCE AND TOURISM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (SCTDA), SHEDS LIGHT ON HOW SHARJAH CATERS TO MENA TRAVELLING FAMILIES WHILST PROMOTING ITS CULTURAL HERITAGE.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What are Sharjah’s top inbound source markets?

H.E. KHALID JASIM AL MIDFA: The GCC continues to dominate the list of Sharjah’s source regions for the tourism sector, sending 450,388 visitors to the emirate in 2016, which amounts to a quarter, 25 percent of all inbound traffic.

Asia, meanwhile, was the second-largest source region with 404,960 visitors to Sharjah in 2016 – accounting for 23 percent of all visitors to the emirate.

This constitutes a nine percent increase from the 370,528 Asian visitors who came to the emirate in 2015. [...]

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How important is it for Sharjah to promote cultural heritage alongside family tourism?

H.E. KHALID JASIM AL MIDFA: Families have been a major market segment for us and have continued to be the core of our marketing strategy.

We recognise that Sharjah is a perfect destination for people travelling as a family unit, due to its safety and good positioning in terms of economic value.

There is also so much to do for families, the 22 museums and other attractions offer edutainment opportunities not found in other locations.

The GCC remains an important market mainly due to the synergy between our cultures. [...]

Sharjah places a lot of emphasis on its signature tourist offering balancing culture and heritage on one hand, and family-centred offerings on the other. [...]

Moreover, in April 2016, SCTDA launched Sharjah My Family Destination.

The campaign, which aimed to introduce new tourism offers and packages for families visiting Sharjah, was a clear testament to the emirate’s commitment to families as a core pillar of its tourism strategy. [...]

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How do Sharjah’s offerings set the destination apart from other MENA products and areas?

H.E. KHALID JASIM AL MIDFA: Sharjah stands out from other destinations in the region as it blends the modern glittering skyscrapers and ultra-luxury hotels that are very characteristic of other Arabian Gulf destinations, with traditional – and even ancient structures – emblematic of destinations in the wider MENA region, such as the old souks and the Al Hisn fort in the Heart of Sharjah, and the archaic relics of the Mleiha fort in the desert outside the city [...].

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What are the must-sees in Sharjah?

H.E. KHALID JASIM AL MIDFA: Travel lers can kick off their journey at Al Majaz Waterfront [...].

In addition to that, the waterfront features an open-air Roman-style amphitheatre that can accommodate up to 4,500 spectators on Khalid Lagoon’s Al Majaz Island.

Meanwhile, Al Qasba [...], is home to the 60m tall Eye of the Emirates Wheel.

The recently completed Al Noor Island, engulfed in the emirate’s famed Khalid Lagoon, houses structures designed to invoke nature, [including a Butterfly House] which harbours as many as 500 exotic butterflies brought from Far East Asian countries. [...]

For the outdoorsy and adventurous, the emirate offers water sports, snorkelling, and diving activities on its east coast, where travellers have the option to either camp on the beach or stay in any of the hotels that line the coast [...].

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What can families visiting Sharjah look forward to in the future?

H.E. KHALID JASIM AL MIDFA: Sharjah will spend the next few years focussing on its natural assets. The emirate has placed large areas under environmental protective measures and the authority has committed to promoting the opportunities available for outdoor tourism. [...]

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: In 2016, how many visitors did the emirate welcome?

H.E. KHALID JASIM AL MIDFA: Guests from all around the world spent a total of 4,021,069 nights in Sharjah’s hospitality establishments in 2016 – a 17 percent increase from 2015 – according to statistics released by the SCTDA.

Hotels and hotel apartments across Sharjah welcomed a combined 1,779,446 guests in 2016, putting the emirate-wide occupancy rate and generating AED685 million (USD 184.4 million) in revenue.