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Gulf News Sunday 7th May, 2006

Tourism chiefs working hard to boost Sharjah's potential

Sharjah is often regarded as the little brother of its larger, more famous neighbour, Dubai. But the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), is working hard to change that perception.

Speaking at the (ATM), the director of the SCTDA, Mohammad Al Noman, said he was confident that Sharjah's unique selling points would continue adding to the growth in its tourism sector.

'We've always promoted the emirate of Sharjah as a family and a cultural and heritage destination' Al Noman says.

'Sharjah's tourism has been growing in terms of people staying in its hotels by 15-20 per cent. Last year, we received over 700,000 tourists coming from al over the world."

"We believe this growth will continue at the same rate."

"Sharjah only stands to gain from its proximity to tourism giant Dubai, Al Noman added.

"I believe it is of benefit to both of us," he said. "I think what Dubai and Abu Dhabi are doing, as well as other emirates such as Sharjah, is benefiting the country as a whole."

Al Noman said guests at exhibition there are many instances in which exhibitions and events are held in Sharjah were guests would stay in Dubai and vice versa.

"The same happens when tourists stay in Sharjah and would go to dubai for excursions and so on."

The Emirate of Sharjah prides itself on its Islamic values and Al Noman says this is reflected in its position a s a family destination.

"As most people will know, Sharjah is a dry emirate, alcohol consumption is not allowed. It is to a certain extent conservative.

"Having said that, the emirate of Sharjah is certainly a hospitable and welcoming place. It's just that when people know this type of tourism is not there, i.e the nighlife and clubs and so on, they tend to prefer to come with their families because they see it as being a laid-back, safe environment and that's why we promote it in this fashion."  

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