Sharjah is aiming to attract about 10 million tourists by 2021, the northern emirate’s tourism promotion agency said in a statement.
The target is part of a new Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021 launched by Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA).
The agency said that the target had been set after analysing factors that affect tourism at the local and regional level. It also said that it has formulated a clear plan to promote tourism to Sharjah.
SCTDA said that it will promote the emirate as a family tourism destination by offering distinct packages to families.
The agency is also focusing on seeking more public private partnerships to ramp up visitors’ overall experience.
“We have been able to tap into our historical and cultural tourism potential and leverage our advanced infrastructure and innovative hospitality services to attract tourists from different parts of the world,“ said Mohammed Ali Al Noman, chairman of SCTDA.
“However, we believe that developing tourism capacity and launching strategic projects are essential to ensure sustained growth and excellence. We are therefore focused on maintaining the uniqueness of our tourism sector and expand the market share of tourism in the economy.
“We will expand the existing tourist attractions and build on the success of our festivals and special events. We are also looking to expand tourist numbers through exhibitions and conferences and enhance Sharjah’s reputation as a major international cruise tourism destination in the region.”
Unlike its neighbouring emirates Dubai and Abu Dhabi – which have been building mega theme park projects and grandiose museums to attract tourists- Sharjah is banking on its allure as the cultural capital of the UAE to increase visitor numbers.
The emirate was named the cultural capital of the Arab World by UNESCO in 1998 and was also titled as the Islamic cultural capital in 2014 and the Arab tourism capital in 2015.
In addition, the emirate hosts around 3000 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.