The Northern Emirates’ tourism and hospitality sector has grown in the last few years. Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah have both carved a niche for themselves, with Ajman, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain also stepping up their marketing efforts. Over the last decade, international hotel operators have set up shop in the UAE’s northern region, and believe prospects are high in these emirates.
Sharjah’s hospitality market is expected to rebound slightly in 2016. While Sharjah’s number of hotel and hotel apartment guests fell last year, according to the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), its chairman Khalid Jasim Al Midfa expects the number of guests to grow by 3-5% in the current year from 1.79 million in 2015.
Sharjah announced its tourism vision last year to nearly double the number of tourists in the next five years from 5.6 million in 2014 to 10 million by 2021. Unlike nearby emirates Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which have focused on mega projects to attract tourists, Sharjah is relying on its charm as the cultural capital of the UAE to increase its share of visitors.
Tourism boards in Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman have also set goals for their emirates. RAK tourism authorities highlighted their mission to attract one million visitors. “Ras Al Khaimah witnessed great success in 2015 and we will continue to learn and build on our successes of last year,” says RAK Tourism Development Authority (RAK TDA), CEO, Haitham Mattar.
The emirate recorded 12,709 visitors alone over the three-day Eid-Al-Adha break in 2015, with its 5,000-odd rooms at 93% occupancy. Top feeder markets included tourists from the UK (12%), Germany (8%), India (6%), and Egypt (4%). Visitor numbers to Ras Al Khaimah hit 740,383 in 2015 representing a 5.7% increase year on year, according to Mattar.
Hotelier Middle East has previously reported that the emirate saw 835,200 visitors in 2011, 1.1 million in 2012, 1.24 million in 2013, and 730,000 in 2014.