Sharjah is positioning itself as a unique holiday destination in India
The 2022 Sharjah Summer Campaign shines a light on the myriad experiences travelers can have in Sharjah. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Trade and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) shares his views on the Sharjah’s growing stature as a global tourist destination. Excerpts from the interview:
Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) recently launched the Sharjah Summer Campaign 2022. What are your expectations in terms of partnership, numbers, economic impact, hotel occupancy from this campaign? What are the target markets for this campaign?
The Sharjah Summer Campaign is one of our most popular and successful annual activations, and its popularity continues to grow this year as more and more visitors and tourists from the UAE and around the world turn to our culturally rich and naturally diverse emirate to pursue their passion. for experiential travel. Until September 30, we plan to welcome a large number of holidaymakers from the United Arab Emirates, India, Europe and beyond. We’ve partnered with 16 top brands to offer our guests and their families all-inclusive leisure and hospitality packages at special discounted rates. We certainly expect a positive economic impact from the influx of visitors, especially as our hotel occupancy rates have been promising so far.
You recently launched a new adventure tourism project in Khorfakkan. What are the salient features of this project? Do you plan to position Sharjah as an adventure tourism destination?
SCTDA’s new adventure tourism project in Sharjah’s beautiful eastern Khorfakkan region sheds new light on the emirate’s vast adventure tourism potential and is being developed on a scenic site overlooking serene Luluyah Beach. Once complete in the fourth quarter of 2023, the development will be an adrenaline seeker’s paradise with its offerings of a zip line, giant swing, dry toboggan run, hiking trails, ATV etc.
What new tourism infrastructure projects are being prepared in Sharjah?
Sharjah’s tourism infrastructure is central to the emirate’s overall economic development and diversification strategy. The new developments in Sharjah’s tourism landscape are huge in terms of both the vision of each project and the value. We have new bespoke projects in the works that will have something new and unique to offer.
Post Covid, what new elements have you integrated into your marketing and digital strategy?
As the travel industry slowly recovers, we are working to make Sharjah the preferred destination for all categories of visitors in the business and leisure sectors. SCTDA’s post-Covid-19 marketing and digital strategies are driven by targeted B2B activities that include business partnerships, campaign design, participation in global trade shows, and more. We have also adopted an extensive and results-oriented approach to our B2C activities. To raise consumer awareness, we launched targeted activations on major global digital platforms and boosted our visibility through direct targeting of travelers on key travel community platforms.
How do you plan to position Sharjah on the Indian market?
India has been a key source market for Sharjah, and we continue to maintain our appeal to Indian visitors through well-researched and aggressive marketing campaigns designed specifically to appeal to the sensibilities of Indian tourists and investors. Most Indian travelers value experiential and cultural travel experiences the most and a family destination is high on their priority list when traveling. Sharjah offers all of the above and even within these offerings we create bespoke itineraries and experiences for our Indian customers.
We continue to position Sharjah as a unique holiday destination, ideal for a short drive, easily accessible from India and the region’s most affordable family destination for wholesome, world-class experiences.
What type of marketing and promotional activities have you planned for the Indian market?
With the aim of building our presence in the country, generating demand and attracting consumers, and supporting business sentiment, we have worked on a holistic plan that includes a strategic mix of PR and marketing activities. On the B2C front, in particular, we are focusing heavily on digital promotions as it is an effective medium for the proliferation and large-scale dissemination of our promotional activities in Indian markets. SCTDA has put in place strategic plans to engage India’s digitally active audience, which has multiplied since Covid-19.
You have also focused on sustainable tourism. What initiatives have you taken/planned on the sustainability front?
Modern travelers are aware of their environmental footprint and are increasingly looking to invest in authentic holidays with less environmental impact. It is heartening to see the transformation of the concept of “responsible tourism” from theory to reality as all players in the sector – businesses and consumers – actively champion sustainable tourism.
With projects such as the “Sharjah Collection” brand inspired by luxury heritage and eco-retreats, for example, among several others, our emirate is undoubtedly leading the sustainable tourism campaign in the United Arab Emirates and the region. region. To facilitate the growth of ecotourism, we work hand in hand with all our partners to ensure that potential visitors are fully informed of the range of wonderful sustainable attractions, hospitality options and cultural activities that our emirate has to offer to each category of traveller. .
Air connectivity is back to normal. What is the state of connectivity between India and Sharjah?
India-Sharjah air traffic has already returned to pre-Covid-19 levels. This is mainly because our emirate is connected not only to Tier 1 cities in India but also to most Tier 2 cities via a number of short and non-stop flight options. Of the 13 Indian cities from which passengers can take direct flights to Sharjah, Bangalore, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai currently top the charts in terms of tourist arrivals to the emirate. Now, with the easing of travel restrictions, in particular that fully vaccinated travelers do not even need to take an RT-PCR test, and with multiple flight options available, flying to Sharjah from India is child’s play.
What segments of tourism and travelers focus on the Indian market?
Sharjah retains its unrivaled international reputation as one of the most attractive destinations in the family tourism segment. Additionally, because the emirate is home to a large Indian expatriate community, Sharjah attracts a large number of visitors from the subcontinent in the VFR (Visiting friends and related) category.