The emirate of Sharjah’s continued growth demonstrates its steadfast efforts to become one of the most prestigious global commercial and tourist destinations. Led by Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), the growth can be attributed to an array of distinctive and exclusive offerings, innovative thinking and strategic planning.
SCTDA was established in 1996 to promote Sharjah’s commercial and tourism aspirations. This is being achieved through organising and participating in various events and activities and creating awareness about the emirate’s tourism and leisure offerings at local, regional and international levels. Thanks to SCTDA’s relentless efforts in partnership with entities from both public and private sectors, investments in the emirate’s tourism industry are also continuously growing.
The UAE has solidified its position as a top global tourism destination since its unification 47 years ago, thanks to the creation of world class airlines and airports, metro stations, shopping destinations and leisure activities. The role of the emirate of Sharjah in this journey has been remarkable. Subdued elegance, which is far from the dazzle and glitz the world has come to expect from the UAE, sensitivity towards its history and culture and a clear focus on their preservation and promotion are key elements that set Sharjah apart in the tourism landscape. UNESCO’s declaration of Sharjah as the Cultural Capital of the Arab World in 1998, followed by the recognition as Capital of Islamic Culture in 2014, cemented this once again.
The year 2018 was marked by activities, achievements and the start of several new initiatives for SCTDA. Most importantly, this year saw the launch of the first edition of the Sharjah Summer Festival, in collaboration with major establishments in the emirate, including Air Arabia, Mega Mall, Sahara Center and Zero 6 Center. Shoppers were able to take advantage of huge discounts during the festival, which also hosted a wide range of exciting and fun activities for the entire family to revel in.
SCTDA’s first-ever independent roadshow was held in Germany in 2018, covering three German cities. The Authority accomplished this in collaboration with the representatives from leading local tourism, service, and hospitality providers. A foray into Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean markets for the first time, through a roadshow organised in partnership with Emirates Airline, was another major highlight during 2018. SCTDA showcased its exceptional tourism offers, including key benefits and the wide array of Sharjah’s tourism products in these markets, which receiving overwhelming responses.
Furthermore, SCTDA received three ISO certificates this year, namely ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 18001, in addition to winning the ‘Best Tourism Authority’ award at the Arabian Travel Awards 2018. These successes are testament to SCTDA’s commitment to implementing the highest standards of excellence and quality across its operations.
Under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the Union and Ruler of Sharjah, SCTDA strives to position Sharjah as the ideal global destination for families, as well as an international cultural hub for visitors who are looking to explore historical and natural heritage. Led by Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021, which aims to attract at least 10 million tourists by 2021, concurrently celebrating the country’s 50th year as a Union, the Authority continues to conceive and develop distinctive family leisure and tourism activities to attract more visitors. The integration of innovative solutions in collaboration to enhance overall local tourism experience and to highlight Sharjah’s natural and cultural heritage, is set to accelerate these efforts. The demand for more sustainable tourism products and services will be met by the incorporation of more extensive sustainability practice.
As a signatory to the United Nations Agenda 2030 for sustainable tourism development, Sharjah has adopted several measures to improve tourism offerings in a sustainable manner. The intensified sustainability efforts in the tourism sector stems from rising concern and awareness towards the wellbeing of future generations and this generation’s realisation of responsibilities towards the same. To add further value to these endeavors, SCTDA regularly conducts workshops for industry stakeholders to spread awareness about the most efficient methods of sustainable hospitality and waste and energy management practices in Sharjah.
We look forward to 2019 and will be concentrating more on eco-tourism products, outdoor activities, and more branded hotels in Sharjah in the coming year. Riding high on the successes and achievements of 2018, with its unwavering focus on preserving and promoting the finest aspects of the UAE’s heritage and culture, SCTDA looks forward to a highly productive and successful year ahead.
* The writer is chairman of Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority”
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