Sharjah – MENA Herald: Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) is focusing on ambitious new initiatives to boost the Meetings, Incentives, Conference & Exhibition (MICE) tourism sector of the Emirate with a specialised study aimed at strengthening the sector’s role in attracting more tourists to Sharjah to reflect positively on the emirate’s economic performance. The study also seeks to discuss the factors contributing to the creation of excellence destinations in MICE sector.

SCTDA organised a workshop at Sheraton Sharjah Hotel & Resort to discuss the study being undertaken by SCTDA in collaboration with INHOCCO (International Hospitality Consulting Group). Held under the theme, ‘Exploring the Routes to Business Tourism in Sharjah’, the workshop was led by His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of SCTDA, and Carl Palmlund, SVP Commercial, Senior Partner at INHOCCO Group.

A number of stakeholders and employees, including managers of hotels and convention centres such as Expo Centre Sharjah, Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre and Sharjah, and Golf & Shooting Club Sharjah attended the workshop, which looked at innovative approaches to strengthen MICE tourism in Sharjah.

Addressing the workshop, HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa said that achieving the goals of Sharjah Tourism Vision to attract 10 million tourists by 2021 requires the development of all tourism sectors, including MICE. “The sector plays an important role in the tourism eco-system and accounts for nearly 5 per cent of the total tourism arrivals in any country and about 11 per cent of the total income,” he said.

HE Al Midfa pointed out that Sharjah is witnessing significant growth in the MICE sector and that SCTDA has noticed robust response to its global promotional campaigns. “We are highlighting our clear differentials in the MICE sector, especially as authorities across the world focus on education, training and exchange of experiences.”

Carl Palmlund reviewed the details of the study adding that the strong cooperation between the hotels and other entities in building Sharjah’s tourism infrastructure has helped drive the growth of the MICE sector. Today, the MICE sector accounts for US$150 billion in revenues annually while the annual growth rate of business tourism in the UAE has recorded positive growth of 9 per cent.”

Stating that international meetings and conferences held in the Gulf region increased by 300 per cent over the last ten years, Palmlund said that the most important sectors for MICE tourism are education, healthcare and the meetings of governmental entities.

The workshop highlighted the potential for Sharjah to leverage the rapidly created “cross-roads of the world” positioning of the UAE as well as the country’s growing trade activity to further develop its MICE potential in the global market place.

Building on its current business tourism infrastructure, Sharjah has undertaken extensive measures in recent years to build and increase its appeal to leisure travellers. In order to develop the potential of the sector further, the workshop called for measures to make use of opportunities to strategically enhance the position of the emirate as a major MICE destination.

The workshop also reviewed the experiences of Abu Dhabi, Oman and Saudi Arabia in the development of MICE sector. At the end of the workshop, the participants from hotels and entities conducted a survey to monitor the indictors of MICE sector growth in Sharjah.