Sharjah turns spotlight on cruise tourism opportunities
Sharjah turned the spotlight on its picturesque East Coast by hosting the World Tourism Day celebrations in the port city of Khorfakkan last week.
HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, director general, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority led the enthusiastic celebrations of the UN World Tourism Day, in the presence of senior government officials and leaders of the tourism and hospitality industry from across the country, including Shurooq, DTCM, Sharjah Ports Authority and dnata.
Welcoming the guests, HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa said the authority this year chose to host World Tourism Day 2014, which is being celebrated by the United Nations under the theme of ‘Tourism and Community Development’, in Khorfakkan in light of strong tourism development being witnessed in the emirate, in addition to the special attention the East Coast has been receiving from the tourism industry.
“The UAE is amongst the fastest growing tourism markets in the region and the world. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than here, on the picturesque East Coast of Sharjah,” said Al Midfa.
“The new cruise-line industry is bringing in nearly 50,000 extra tourists to our emirate alone. The cruise industry is a valuable addition to any country mainly due to the fact the 'tourism footprint' is low and the economic opportunity is high.
"Once this area has fully realised its enterprise opportunity, it is estimated that cruises could potentially generate another 16 million AED for our economy.”
He also noted that this is one of the reasons the Authority chose Khorfakkan for the celebrations this year.
Khorfakkan has been a key stop for international luxury cruise-liners, since opening its doors to international cruise ships in the early 1980s.
Hamad Bin Mejren, executive director, business tourism, DTCM said: "The UAE is blessed with a government that recognises the value of tourism, and fosters its growth and development as an economic driver and creator of employment opportunities.
"We are grateful to our friends at Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority for extending an invitation to participate at their event to mark World Tourism Day, and to discuss how tourism – and specifically cruise tourism – has and can continue to contribute to the UAE’s growth and success.”
He added: "This collaborative initiative between Oman’s Ministry of Tourism, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority and Dubai Tourism sees all three authorities working together to more effectively promote the Arabian Gulf as a destination for international cruise tourists.
"With the recent introduction of the UAE cruise visa there are now even more opportunities for us to work hand in hand with our UAE partners to attract greater numbers of cruise travellers."