Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority headed a tourism delegation to Germany for ITB Berlin 2017, from March 8-12, as part of the emirate’s strategy to continue building its reputation globally as a family destination offering a diverse tourism portfolio with its unparalleled experiences in culture and heritage.
Sharjah has announced a 16 per cent growth in guest numbers in 2016 against the global growth of 4.6 per cent and the Middle East overall growth of 9 per cent, clearly underlines the success of the Authority’s endeavors.
His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, said, “We are always delighted to be at Berlin and this is our 20th year of participation demonstrating our long term investment in the European market. ITB is always a good exhibition for us but this year our improved stand design has added a new dimension and we noticed a considerable increase in footfall and business this year. We are delighted that our efforts have been recognised and we received first place in the best stand for the Middle East category awarded at a glittering ceremony during ITB. The success of the Authority is thanks to the wise leadership of and guidance of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.”
On the opening day, Sharjah’s outstanding award winning pavilion quickly became the heart of the Middle East hall. The traditional café occupied the middle section at the stand with a traditional date souk and opportunities for the visitors to experience henna art and calligraphy, the stand certainly underscored the heritage and culture of the region.
The ‘Natural Sharjah’ tunnel attracted great attention and was supported by the new coffee table book which emphasizes all of Sharjah’s natural treasures. This innovative tunnel made entirely from sustainable wood sources very visually reflected the importance that is being placed on the environment and outdoor tourism by the Authority for the coming years. To ensure understanding of the wide diversity of natural assets that Sharjah has, the Authority has worked closely with the Environmental Protection Authority to launch a new coffee table book profiling the protected areas as well as the flora and fauna found in the emirate.
“Sharjah has established itself as a global tourism brand with huge potential for further investment, capitalising on its diverse landscape, rich heritage, temperate climate and excellent accommodation industry, which together makes Sharjah a fabulous, affordable family destination for leisure and business travel on local, regional and international levels,” said Al Midfa.
Historically, Germany is one of Sharjah’s important source markets, which together with the rest of Europe accounts for 20 per cent of all guest stays in the emirate.
“Our presence at ITB comes as a testament of our commitment to continue strengthening our ties with Germany, as one of our top source markets; and exemplifies our initiatives to further grow the emirate’s brand presence, which with its temperate climate, stunning landscapes and vast outdoor offering, Sharjah is securely establishing itself internationally as a premier global affordable family destination,” the SCTDA Chairman added.
The number of visitors to the stand underscored Sharjah stand recognition and prominence at the show. The Authority was delighted to receive visits from H.E. Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi, President, Federal National Council, as well as the UAE Ambassador H.E. Ali Al Ahmad along with the Minister of Economy H.E. Mohammed Al Muhairi.
Among many meetings on the stand from investors, media, and key outbound players in the tourism industry, Sharjah Tourism noted the enthusiasm towards the new positioning of the emirate reflected in the stand design and the increased desire by the travel industry for Sharjah to be included and positioned in their portfolios. A number of key outbound operators announced their intention to increase flight frequency to the region which is a positive sign of not only economic improvement but also reflects the hard work of all the tourism boards in the region to positioning their products in the minds of the European consumer.
The delegation, led by the SCTDA Chairman, included the co-exhibitors of Shurooq, Sharjah Airport Authority, Environmental Protected Areas Authority, Sharjah Museums Department, Sharjah Heritage, Knowledge without Borders, SATA, Sharjah National Hotels, Golden Tulip, Ramada, Coral Beach Resort, Sheraton, Auras Tours, and TravTalk.