(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Hotels in Sharjah recorded 78 per cent occupancy levels in first quarter as international travellers continue to visit the emirate.
The emirate, which is considered capital of Arab and Islamic culture, registered a steady growth of 11 per cent in tourist numbers as new markets were explored following successful participation in international events.
"The statistics once again demonstrate the vibrancy and potential of Sharjah's tourism sector, and its ability to maintain steady growth while it expands to new markets, Mohamed Ali Al Noman, chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (Sctda), said at the launch of Sctda's first-quarter report at Arabian Travel Market on Wednesday.
The first-quarter statistics showed a slight increase in hotel occupancy rate touching 78 per cent, compared with 75 per cent in the same period last year. The number of hotel and hotel apartment guests stood at 466,218 compared to 421,516 in the same period last year, reflecting an increase of 11 per cent.
"The total number of hotel and hotel apartment room nights in the first quarter stood at 539,393 as compared to 478,456 in the same period last year. This puts the total occupancy rate of hotels and hotel apartments in the emirate at 78 per cent during the first quarter after the recent addition of new hotels and hotel rooms over the past few months," the report said.
"We are trying to create an attractive tourist environment by pursuing a long-term strategy and with the help of our various popular culture and tourism festivals," Al Noman said.
The number of hotels in the emirate now stands at 47 with a total number of hotel rooms reaching 5,191. Moreover, the emirate has 53 hotel apartments with total capacity of 3,825 rooms.
With the emirate now boasting 100 hotels and hotel apartments with a total number of room capacity of 9,015, the first quarter saw an increase of 5 per cent in accommodation capacity, the report said.
Western visitors continue to dominate the tourist flow into the emirate as 171,600 European tourists visited the emirate in the first quarter, accounted for 37 per cent of the total number of foreign visitors. The GCC citizens were not far behind with 166,525, or 36 per cent, of them visiting Sharjah during the first quarter. Other Arab travellers stood at 56,698, or 12 per cent, the report said.
"We are constantly trying to reach out to new markets around the world by presenting Sharjah at international exhibitions and events like ITB where we once again won the Best Middle East Exhibitor award," said Al Noman. He said that the Sctda has also been working with other public and private players to promote Sharjah. He hailed the recently opened Al Majaz Waterfront project that has changed the face of Khalid Lagoon and the Buheirah Corniche enhancing their aesthetic elegance.
He also welcomed the Kalba ecotourism project unveiled by Shurooq at the ATM on Tuesday saying projects like this were part of the emirate's plan to promote environment tourism and it would turn the spotlight on the undiscovered beauty of Kalba and Sharjah's East Coast.