Sharjah hotels and hotel apartments registered a 19 percent increase in room nights booked during the first nine months of 2016, totalling 2.94 million room nights, according to Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA). The increase in total booked room nights comes in spite of the fact that occupancy rates have remained flat at 62 percent, suggesting that visitors may be remaining in Sharjah for longer stays.
Although the largest number of guests registered in Sharjah hotels are from the GCC states (360,000 Gulf nationals visiting during the first nine months of the year), the tourism authority’s international marketing seems to be paying off, with increases reported from several key markets. The SCTDA has been targeting markets identified as having high potential for growth in its strategic marketing plan, in order to attract 10 million tourist per annum by 2021.
According to SCTDA figures, China is now Sharjah’s fastest growing tourism market with 62,936 Chinese travelers visiting the emirate during the first nine months of this year: 75 percent increase compared with the equivalent period of 2015. This growth is consistent with the 78 percent increase in Chinese hotel guests registered during 2015. The SCDTA has recently stepped up marketing efforts in China, opening up a representative office, recruiting Chinese staff and adding a Chinese language website to Sharjah’s tourism portal.
Meanwhile, Sharjah saw a 12 percent growth in the number of Pakistani visitors and an 8.7 percent increase in visitors from Russia, being the first growth measured from the Russian market since the Russian currency fell in 2014.
Sharjah offers more than 100 hotels and hotel apartments, including properties managed by some of the leading five star hotel brands in the world. A wide range of new developments are currently underway, including the construction of a new US$100 million (AED 367m) art and culture themed 5-star luxury beachfront hotel and resort managed by global hotel operator Accor; a 4-star, 200 room Novotel located adjacent to Sharjah Expo; a 4-star Four Points hotel; and an Aloft boutique hotel. Last week, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) announced that the construction for its new 5-star hotel in the Heart of Sharjah – Al Bait Hotel – is now 50 percent completed.
According to Sharjah International Airport, 8.3 million passengers were handled by the airport during the first nine months of 2016.