Already seeing strong growth in tourist arrivals from China and India, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) is now setting its sights on expansion into new Asian markets like Malaysia and Indonesia as it looks to attract 10 million international tourists by 2021.
Speaking to TTG Asia at the Arabian Travel Market 2018, SCTDA chairman Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, said: “We are looking at ways to reach out to Malaysians and Indonesians from where at present we are attracting a small number of tourist arrivals. There is a lot of potential that these two markets offer, considering their sizeable Muslim populations. We will promote Sharjah by showcasing our rich Islamic culture in Malaysia and Indonesia.”
SCTDA is currently gathering market intelligence on Malaysia and Indonesia in its development of a promotion and marketing strategy targeting these two markets. It is also shortlisting major outbound travel agencies in both countries to work with to boost tourist arrivals.
Welcoming the NTO’s pitch for new markets, Jamal Abdulnazar, CEO of Sharjah-based Cozmo Travel, said: “There is a lot of infrastructure development going on in Sharjah for the purpose of tourism development. Markets like Dubai are already seeing a growth in tourist groups coming from Indonesia, so there is a good opportunity for Sharjah also to attract these travellers.”
Meanwhile, key Asian source markets, India and China, posted strong growth last year. In 2017, the emirate recorded 138,000 and 126,000 hotel guests from India and China, marking growths of 32 per cent and 54 per cent respectively from the previous year.
“Tourists from both India and China are looking for experiential travel. They are being drawn to our tradition and heritage. We expect the numbers from both these markets will continue to grow strongly this year as well,” said Al Midfa.