Sharjah – MENA Herald: Hotels across the Emirate of Sharjah recorded a seven per cent increase in revenue – which reached AED378 million – in the January-to-June period of 2016.

Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority has strategically identified many new markets and worked with local partners to increase guests from these markets and the first half year figures are encouraging with a 19 per cent increase on same period in 2015.

The most successful of these new markets still appears to be bookings coming from China witnessed a staggering 73.2 per cent increase in numbers in the first six months of this year. The Authority is continuing to focus effort on this market and is looking forward to further increases over the following year resulting from a new overseas office, Chinese staff, and strategic online marketing in the region.

The effect of new flight routes to Pakistan has also had a positive effect on numbers of visitors travelling from Pakistan with a 10.3 per cent increase to in hotel guests during the first half of 2016. All in all, the number of Asian tourists grew by 12 per cent making Asia the second-largest source market for Sharjah, just behind the GCC which sent nearly 220,000 visitors in the first six months of 2016 this is also expected to grow and see some peaks in numbers as a result of the summer marketing in these regions in the second half of this year.

Europe and Russia continue to come in third place for hotel guests staying in Sharjah from the continent in H1 2016. This year there is some optimism seeing the number of Russian visitors starting to pick up again, increasing by 1.8 per cent in the first six months of this year.

Visitors from non-GCC Arab countries totalled just under a quarter of a million guests, with the number of Jordanians visiting the emirate increasing by four per, and Egypt and maintaining their guest numbers, respectively, to Sharjah during the same period.

Also worth noting is the two per cent increase in the number of African tourists in the emirate, in the January-to-June period of 2016.

“The positive results underline the fact that Sharjah is gaining in popularity as a year-round destination for families from all around the world,” said His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of SCTDA. “This, in turn, proves that the emirate has succeeded in diversifying its tourism and hospitality offerings.”

HE went on to explain that the rise in visitor numbers is in line with Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021, which builds on four key pillars to boost tourism in the emirate: from creating offerings and packages targeting families, and offering new and innovative experiences, to putting in place world-class tourism facilities and capabilities, and, finally, establishing Sharjah as an international cultural hub.

“This goes to show,” HE Al Midfa assures, “that the Emirate of Sharjah is well on its way to attract 10 million visitors by the year 2021 – when the UAE celebrates its 50th anniversary – as stipulated in the Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021.”