Aug. 15--Sharjah continues to attract visitors from around the world in growing numbers as total room nights crossed the one million mark during the first half of year 2013.
Hotel occupancy in the emirate increased to more than 71 per cent compared to 66 per cent during January to June, 2012 period, according to the statistics released by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA).
With a total number of 951,592 guests staying in the emirate's 103 hotel establishments (48 hotels and 55 hotel apartments), an overall increase of nine per cent in guest numbers was registered.
The guests were roughly split between hotels and hotel apartments with 536,047 staying in hotels and 415,545 choosing to stay in hotel apartments, whereas 874,977 guests stayed in the emirates hotel same period last year with 511,620 staying in hotels in hotels and 363,357 in hotel apartments.
SCTDA chairman Mohamed Ali Al Noman said that these numbers are a testament to the growth and resilience of Sharjah's tourism sector, and a reflection of the positive development witnessed by the sector and the path to excellence that the emirate has been pursuing.
The report also shows a seven per cent jump in the number of hotel room nights and hotel apartment room nights from 999,599 last year (621,359 hotel room nights and 378,249 hotel apartments room nights) to 1,071,829 (611,445 hotel room nights and 460,387 hotel apartments room nights) this year. Thanks to the encouraging investments made in the hospitality in recent years, the capacity of the emirate's hospitality sector will jump to 12,000 rooms over the next two years.
Following visitor patterns in recent years, the Europeans once again took the lion's share at 37 per cent with some 347,480 tourists from Europe visiting the emirate in the first half of 2013. Amongst the Europeans, Russian tourists lead with 23 per cent.
The Europeans were closely followed by the GCC tourists (34 per cent) with some 324,239 people visiting the emirate. Asian visitors formed 14 per cent whereas Arab visitors from other countries across the Middle East formed 10 per cent. The Americans, the Africans and Scandinavian tourists formed 5 per cent of the visiting tourist population so far this year.
The half-yearly statistics report suggests that the tourism sector in Sharjah continues to be influenced and driven by its celebrated tourist attractions, heritage, cultural activities and fun and games events. "This year we have stepped up our efforts to target local, regional and international tourism markets.
The Sharjah Light Festival, held in February this year, celebrating the emirate's magnificent monuments and landmarks, attracted great number of visitors. The emirate hosted this year as well "Sharjah Biennial" for two months alongside with "Sharjah heritage Days", "Sharjah Festival Days" and "Sharjah Spring Promotions", SCTDA chairman said.