Thursday, April 30, 2015

10M tourists by 2021 is UAE's target

Dubai--Sharjah aims to attract up to 10 million tourists by 2021 and expand tourism’s contribution to the emirate’s economy, the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) said on Wednesday.

Sharjah expects to nearly double the number of tourists in the next six years from 5,605,000 in 2014. And, to cater to the anticipated increase in demand, boost hotel room numbers from 10,000 today to 15,000 by 2021.

Last year, two million guests stayed in the emirate’s 50 hotels and 56 hotel apartments.

“This is a goal that cannot be achieved by any particular sector alone. To achieve this, we need the active partnership of all public and private sector companies and institutions in the aviation, tourism and hospitality sectors,” Mohammad Ali Al Noman, chairman of SCTDA, said at a press conference in Sharjah.

Al Noman did not say the expected tourism revenue and tourism’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) by 2021. However, tourism accounted for 8.5 per cent of the emirate’s GDP in 2012, which touched Dh83 billion, according to data from SCTDA.

Areas of focus

To attract more tourists, SCTDA has listed four key areas of focus:
First is to promote Sharjah as an ideal family tourism destination by offering packages and offers for families.
Second is to improve tourists experience by offering innovative solutions.

Third is to provide tourism facilities and to enhance efficiencies in the tourism sector through partnership and collaboration with other entities.

And fourth is to position the emirate as an international cultural hub by promoting cultural and heritage elements among families. This year, Sharjah is the “Arab Tourism Capital” and last year was named the “Islamic Cultural Capital.”

Al Noman said that Sharjah is likely to face challenges as it achieves its tourism vision.

“We can mention some challenges … to increase the number of hotel rooms. Now at the moment, we have around 10,000 hotel rooms and we are working on some licences for new hotels to join the hospitality sector in Sharjah. This is definitely a challenge that we are working on in the authority in collaboration with the government of Sharjah under the support of the consultative council,” he said.

The government plans to launch incentives in the short term to boost the development of hotels in the three- to five-star hotel segment, according to Al Noman.

“We hope by doing that, we will bring down the cost of investing in this sector,” he said.

“We will be announcing an incentives package. Maybe part of the incentives is the hotel room tax. The 10- 20 per cent tax could be exempted for three to four years … we may provide land, either with reduced prices or through partnerships. The government will allocate these lands,” he added. -end-

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