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Over 1.5 Million Tourists Visited Sharjah In 2008

Sharjah, UAE, 19th January, 2009: The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), said the tourism sector scored growth in 2008, according to detailed statistics for the performance of Sharjah’s tourism sector for the year ending December 31, 2008.

During this period, the tourism sector continued the substantial growth that it saw in 2007, with the overall number of guests climbing from the 1.45 million seen in 2007, to 1.53 million in 2008, achieving growth of over five percent.

This increase in tourism pushed the overall occupancy in Sharjah’s hotels to 86 percent in 2008, up from 85 percent in 2007. Occupancy in hotel apartments rose to 86 percent in 2008 up from 85 percent in 2007. The total occupancy of hotels and hotel apartments in the emirate of Sharjah was 80 percent in 2008, maintaining the same rate of 2007 and showing sustained growth in 2008 despite the impact of the global economic crisis on the tourism sectors in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The number of hotels and hotel apartments in the emirate has increased by 7 percent to 103 hotel premises during 2008, 37 hotels and 66 hotel apartments, as compared to 96 hotel premises, 33 hotels and 63 hotel apartments.

Accordingly, the number of hotel rooms increased to 3,896 in 2008 from 3,721 in 2007, while the number of hotel apartment rooms rose to 3,751 in 2008, compared to 3,238 in 2007. The total number of hotel and hotel apartment rooms rose to 7,647 rooms, a 10 percent increase over the 6,959 rooms that were available in 2007.

The number of guests surged to 1,535,234 in 2008, a five percent growth as compared to the1, 456,058 guests reported last year. The number of hotel and hotel apartment guests climbed to 824,135 and 711,099, respectively, against 722,948 and 733,110 recorded in 2007.

Figures also show that the total number of occupied room nights rose to 1,504,859 in 2008, up from 1,498,197 in 2007.

This figure includes 882,599 guests in hotels, up from 847,556, and 622,260 guests in hotel apartments compared to 650,641 in 2007.

According to statistics from SCTDA, European tourists accounted for 35 per cent of the total tourist arrivals to the emirate in 2008, while GCC tourists accounted for 27 per cent and 12 per cent came from other Arab countries.

Asian tourists made up 23 per cent of the total, while tourists from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and Pacific region made up the remaining 3 per cent.

Commenting on the SCTDA’s report, H.E. Mohamed A. Al Noman, the Authority’s Director General, said, "The maintained growth rate achieved in 2008 and the increase in the number of hotel premises in Sharjah reflect the increased tourist inflow into the Emirate, which has already occupied a prominent position on the world’s tourism map, as a result of SCTDA’s efforts under the under the prudent directives of HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and the follow up and support of HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah." Al Noman added that the SCTDA’s success in attracting the leading entertainment, sports, cultural and heritage events have significantly contributed to increase tourist inflow into the emirate, resulting in a growth in hotel occupancy rate and strong tourism performance throughout the year. He said the authority will organize other events in different parts of the Emirate with the aim to further support Sharjah’s tourism appeal.

"We believe that the growth we are making is an outcome of the well-planned efforts we exerted throughout the year, with the aim to further develops the tourism sector and weather global economic changes," said Al Noman. "We will continue our promotional campaigns to develop Sharjah’s tourism sector by targeting international markets and organizing events and activities that further promote the Emirate, such as tourism fairs, trade fairs and promotional tours. However, the focus for 2009 will be more on local and GCC markets." Al Noman clarified that the tourism sector in the emirate is based on a meticulous strategy that takes into account all the changes that may impact tourism performance: "Sharjah’s tourism sector has been growing by 5 to 20 percent over the past five years. We will continue our efforts to promote Sharjah’s tourism brand on local, regional and international levels to further develop its position as a leading regional tourist destination. However, we do not deny a possibility of reduced tourism growth in 2009, as the sector is not isolated from the impact of global economic changes. The SCTDA will spare no efforts to weather these changes and minimize their negative impacts", he added.

"We deeply believe in Sharjah’s tourism product and in our ability to face challenges, and we are determined to continue our efforts to further boost the leading position of the Capital of Arab Culture on the world’s tourism map," Al Noman concluded.

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