Sharjah hotels and hotel apartments registered a 63 percent increase in visitors from China during 2016 according to new figures from Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA).
More than 86,000 Chinese visitors stayed in Sharjah hotels last year, compared with 53,000 during 2015, making China the emirate’s sixth largest inbound tourism market.
The UAE’s recent move to introduce visa-on-arrival for visitors from China is expected to further boost tourism numbers during 2017.
China is the world’s largest outbound tourism market worth an estimated US$ 168 billion, with 120 million Chinese travelling abroad during 2016.
The country is a priority target market for Sharjah and the tourism authority is planning to welcome 200,000 Chinese visitors per annum by the year 2021, as part of its tourism development strategy.
China is already the emirate’s fastest growing inbound tourism market, with hotels registering a 78 percent increase in hotel guests from China during 2015 (compared to 2014 levels).
The SCDTA has been driving an active marketing campaign to attract more visitors from China, opening up a representative office, recruiting Chinese staff and adding a Chinese language website to Sharjah’s tourism portal.
Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority has recently taken tourism roadshows to Chengdu, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.
This month, the authority hosted 15 major outbound Chinese travel companies from China’s east coast on a familiarisation visit (‘fam trip’) to Sharjah. Visiting travel agencies were introduced to Sharjah’s tourism destinations, heritage and cultural attractions and the emirate’s areas of outstanding natural beauty.
The travel trade visitors also attended workshops together with key local tourism stakeholders.
The UAE is China’s second largest trading partner and largest export market in the Middle East and North Africa, with estimates for 2016 bilateral trade reaching as high as US$60 billion. There are about 4,200 Chinese companies operating in the UAE, including China Construction, China Harbour and China National Petroleum.
According to the tourism authority, Russia visitors also registered double-digit growth during 2016, the first significant growth measured from that country market since the fall of the Russian currency in 2014.