Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
In order to shape the future of the tourism sector from a sustainability perspective, the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) hosted the sixth edition of the Sharjah Hospitality Forum on Monday under the theme ‘Sustainable Tourism creates Business Opportunities’.
Speaking on the occasion, SCTDA Chairman Khalid Jasim Al Midfa highlighted the importance of further developing the tourism, hospitality and travel sector through the adoption of innovative approaches and strategies with a focus on sustainability, and how this will enhance the emirate’s position on the world tourism map.
“The idea behind choosing ‘Sustainable Tourism creates Business Opportunities’ as the theme of this forum stems from the necessity to consolidate the concept and practices of sustainability in the tourism sector, which is at the forefront of global trends,” he said.
He pointed out that the forum would enhance the efficiency and sustainability of the tourism sector, in addition to exploring new opportunities to support tourism and economic activity. These include increasing the number of visitors and improving the experience for tourists coming to the Emirate of Sharjah, which boasts competitive components and distinctive landmarks that offer exceptional tourism experiences.
Al Midfa added, “The Forum also contributed to the achievement of the goal set by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) with its focus on Sustainable Tourism planning, which contributes to enhancing social, economic and environmental benefits for communities.”
“We look forward to continuing the hosting of Sharjah Hospitality Forum, which is an ideal platform to strengthen cooperation among entrepreneurs, investors and partners to draw out ambitious development plans that are necessary to uplift the tourism and hospitality sector in Sharjah and to attract investments to this sector to ensure sustainability of resources and competencies.
Furthermore, we aim to improve the quality of tourism services and facilities based on innovation and global best practices to deliver a distinctive tourism experience, in line with the National Strategy for Innovation, which establishes a comprehensive framework for the integration of innovation in various sectors in the UAE,” said Al Midfa. Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Saleh, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade Affairs, noted that the tourism sector, which has become one of the most important drivers of growth in the region in general and the UAE in particular, supports the global economy and serves as a major engine for sustainable development, culturally and economically.
He also added that Sustainable Tourism is one of the pillars adopted by the UAE to serve the goals of sustainable development goals of the United Nations, as it is also a vital sector that significantly contributes to the national economy. The contribution of the travel and tourism sector amounted to 11.1 per cent of the GDP in 2018, which is equivalent to Dhs164 billion, he added.
Panel discussions held at the forum discussed ‘Sustainable tourism as a tool for creating opportunities and a standard for building profitable and responsible products,’ and ‘Develop the capabilities of sustainable tourism.” On the sidelines of the Forum, two workshops were also held under the theme of Sustainable Tourism. The first one titled “Popular business model and investment opportunities in the sustainable tourism” was presented by Yolanda Perdomo, a tourism industry expert. The second session titled “Applications of sustainable tourism accreditation plans and certificates,” was led by Prof Urs Wagenseil, Member of Institute of Management Tourism, and Head of Competence Centre of Tourism, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences & Arts.
The Forum was held at a time when Sharjah is witnessing rapid growth across its various economic sectors. The emirate’s tourism and hospitality industry has emerged as one of the main drivers of economic growth and diversification, marked by a remarkable growth in the field of infrastructure development, and is currently attracting numerous investors, partners, businessmen and interested parties to explore opportunities.
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