Innovation takes centre stage at Sharjah travel & tourism forum - GulfToday

Innovation takes centre stage at Sharjah travel & tourism forum

Sharjah Travel & Tourism Forum

Top officials during the panel discussion in Sharjah on Tuesday.

Under the theme ‘Smart Tourism and Global Challenges’, the Sharjah International Travel and Tourism Forum (SITTF) gathered entrepreneurs and experts in travel and tourism in the UAE and from around the globe, to share inspiring insights, and future plans to help recover and drive the global tourism industry in a post-COVID world.

Held under the patronage of  Sheikh Sultan Bin Muhammad Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, the Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), the forum was held on Wednesday at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre. The event was opened by Khalid Jasim Al Midfa Chairman of Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority.

“The global tourism sector is preparing for a new phase of growth where countries are employing new products and allocating deep budgets for its promotion and development. A major component to drive this growth will be the development of Smart Tourism, by immersing digital and technological innovations in this sector. In a recent study, 84 per cent travelers themselves have stated that technology will help increase their confidence in travelling,” said Guest of Honour at the event, Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises. “The UAE is already employing the latest in digital technology across sectors, and in particular to support the travel sector. We have deployed the 5G connectivity, and have so far trained 100,000 programmers to support businesses. We hope to continue this drive and reach new horizons and expand to new sectors.”

He highlighted the importance of calculated and detailed development strategy in the tourism sector using digital technologies to accelerate and attract visitor experience. “We are working on ways to advance tourism initiatives. The World’s Coolest Winter Campaign attracted nearly 950,000 visitors and brought in revenues of $1 billion over 45 days. We are seeing an increase in international tourism with global vaccination drives in full swing, with the Expo 2020 Dubai has welcomed 3.5 million visitors in just the first six weeks. We also aim to increase UAE national participation, by encouraging more SMEs to lead the sector. There is much to look forward to in supporting the tourism industry to move forward.”

Meanwhile, Shurooq, the Sharjah Investment & Development Authority, highlighting the role of Tourism Leadership, Change & Innovation during the Sharjah International Travel & Tourism Forum (SITTF) 2021, displayed a pipeline of touristic attractions and developments.  From adventure experiences, glamping attractions to a series of new and unique hospitality projects, the government is working towards driving global attention towards the emirate’s flora, fauna and historical heritage.

Literally situated in the heart of the UAE, Sharjah features a rich historical background that the government is now aiming to bring to the forefront of all touristic activities.

Khalid Jasim Al Midfa Chairman of Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), said, “Tourism is a critical sector and a key component in the UAE, as well as the global economy. The sector contributes 10 per cent in the domestic industry. The leadership plays an important role in the development of tourism as they facilitate the industry through policies, and infrastructure development. In 50 years the UAE has made a huge leap with the visions of our leadership and our grandparents, and we are following on their footsteps to continue the development and progress. We believe this region has a very promising future.

“The UAE is currently receiving 20-25 million hotel guests per year, this is a significant number when the population is only 10 million. This shows the demand in this region currently.”

Marwan Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman of Sharjah Investment & Development Authority said, “At a time that is the kiss of life in this sector, it is important for us to showcase Sharjah on a global platform through strong participations in global events, such as the recently concluded World Travel Market in London.

“We started working on our comprehensive development programme by identifying features like heritage and culture. We converted several old Emirati homes into heritage hotels and museums, to keep alive the emirate’s cultural history and traditions.”

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