European tourists flock to Sharjah

More than 600,000 people visited the emirate last year and officials want even more to come.

More than 600,000 European tourists visited Sharjah last year, a seven per cent increase on 2008, the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority said yesterday. In total, 608,281 European tourists visited the emirate last year amid an expanding leisure industry which has seen the number of hotels and hotel-apartment buildings rise to 110.

Staff from Sharjah's tourism department and those working in the leisure industry were due to begin a 10-day trip across Europe today to promote the emirate's attractions. Mohammed al Noman, the director of the tourism authority, said such marketing was necessary amid the global economic crisis. "These challenging times make us responsible for fulfilling all the requirements that will ensure Sharjah of a leading position on the regional and global tourism map," he said.

The delegation is made up of staff from the tourism department and representatives of the airport and the hotel industry. They will use the budget airline Air Arabia to fly to Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece to promote Sharjah as an ideal destination for families. "This promotional roadshow is an initiative that will create further opportunities for the emirate of Sharjah to showcase its tourist attractions," said Mr al Noman.