Sharjah targets 10 million tourists by 2021

By John O'Hanlon

Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) has announced Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021, a tourism development strategy that aims to attract more than 10 million tourists to the emirate by year 2021.

SCTDA’s strategic plan, which follows an in depth study of Sharjah’s tourism market, proposition for tourists and opportunities in the sector, is built on four key pillars.

– The first pillar, entails promoting Sharjah as an Ideal Family Tourism Destination by offering distinct packages and offers specially designed for families.

– An Innovative Tourism Approach is core to the second pillar, improving the tourist experience through the provision of innovative solutions.

– World Class Tourism Facilities and Capabilities to enhance efficiencies in tourism sector through partnership and collaborative action constitute the third pillar.

– Continuing to develop Sharjah’s status as an International Cultural Hub will be the fourth pillar, which also resonates well with Sharjah’s family tourism objectives.

In contrast to Dubai and Abu Dhabi which have been investing heavily in projects to attract tourists Sharjah is presenting itself as the cultural capital of the UAE. The emirate was named the cultural capital of the Arab World by UNESCO in 1998 and was given the title of Islamic cultural capital in 2014, and the Arab tourism capital in 2015.

In addition, the emirate hosts around 3,000 events every year including the Formula One Power Boat World Championship, Sharjah Light Festival, Sharjah Heritage Days, Sharjah Theatre Days and the Sharjah Biennial. According to the latest figures available through SCTDA, the number of tourists to Sharjah during the first half of 2014 exceeded one million. The figure showed a 15 per cent growth over the same period in 2013.

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