Sharjah Tourism Advisory Committee holds its first meeting, discusses steps and solutions to invigorate the industry

SHARJAH: The Sharjah Tourism Advisory Committee, chaired by Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Director General, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, held its first meeting on, November 24 at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss the latest developments and achievements in the emirate’s tourism sector, amidst the challenges and massive growth faced by the industry in the region and globally.

The Tourism Advisory Committee will develop strategies and tactical plans to upgrade and invigorate the tourism sector and elevate Sharjah’s position on the world tourism map at a time when the emirate is all set to be crowned the Capital of Arab Tourism for 2015.

Welcoming the Committee members, Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Director General, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority highlighted the successful growth of the tourism sector in the emirate over the past few years, which has been reflected through the increasing number of tourists year after year.

Referring to this year’s 9 per cent growth in the tourism and hospitality sectors, Al Midfa emphasised the need for tourism infrastructure and facilities to keep pace with the growing demand, providing the best possible, world-class services and amenities to Sharjah’s guests for a perfect touristic experience.

The high-profile meeting was attended by Marwan Jasim Al Serkal, CEO, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Saif Mohamed Al Midfa, Director General, Expo Centre Sharjah, Manal Attayah, Director General, Sharjah Museums Department, Mohammed Ali, Chairman of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Committee for Tourism Sector-Hotels, Engineer Lamia Obaid Al Shamsi, Director, IT, Sharjah International Airport Authority, Shalini Rajan, Regional Manager, Air Arabia, Asma Saif Al Suwaidi, Manager, Communication and Community Service, Environment and Protected Areas Authority, (EPAA), Abdul Aziz Al Musalam, Director of Heritage and Cultural Affairs, Sharjah Department of Culture and Information, Khalid Bin Kuwayir, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Committee for Tourism Sector, Hotel Apartments, Abdul Wahid Al Zarouni, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Committee for Tourism Sector-Haj and Umra, Mohamed Mer Abdulrahman, Manager, Department of Seaports and Customs and Hisham Al Madhloum, Directorate of Art, Sharjah Art Foundation, Department of Culture and Information.

Sheikha Nawar Al Qasimi, attended on behalf of Sheikha Hoor bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Art Foundation.

The SCTDA Director General praised the continuing cooperation and spirit of partnership among various tourism stakeholders and public and private sectors in order to invigorate the tourism sector and elevate the emirate’s position in regional and global markets, in accordance with the vision and guidance of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.

Al Midfa said that Sharjah’s tourism product has earned itself a special place and is celebrated for its distinct diversity reflecting itself in rich cultural heritage, endless leisure opportunities, popular museums, cultural centers, tourist attractions, historical landmarks, art galleries, and convention facilities such as the Expo Centre Sharjah. All these have helped Sharjah earn itself a host of international awards and accolades including the Capital of Arab Tourism Award next year, which is again a tribute to the role played by various entities and players in the emirate, he said.

The SCTDA Director General pointed out that tourism is today one of the key global economic and social drivers and plays a critical role in the economic progress of nations. Al Midfa said that tourism now contributes as much as 8.5% to Sharjah’s GDP. This meeting is the first step in the development of consolidated plans and strategies, leading to a new era of growth in the emirate’s tourism sector, he emphasised.

The Advisory Committee meeting deliberated on the challenges facing the industry and steps needed to upgrade Sharjah’s tourism sector, particularly domestic tourism.

The meeting discussed the strengths and chief attractions of Sharjah’s tourism product highlighting the important tourist and cultural ingredients that attract investors and tourists from all over the world. The meeting called for encouraging greater investments in tourism and hospitality sectors to boost the number of hotel rooms in the emirate besides inviting more restaurants and leisure facilities to open in Sharjah.

The Committee members unanimously agreed on the importance of teamwork to achieve growth in the tourism sector and the need to develop a unified vision and common goals by all stakeholders in order to meet the future challenges of growth. They stressed the importance of regular meetings and interactions to keep pace with emerging challenges and developments in the global tourism market in order to enhance Sharjah’s position as one of the top global destinations.