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Sharjah showcases its commitment to sustainability at ATM 2023

May 03, 2023 / 4:47 PM
During the event
Sharjah 24: The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) has unveiled "Rehlati," a unique training programme in the emirate aimed at equipping tour guides with the necessary skills to offer comprehensive services in the tourism sector.
The first-of-its-kind programme, announced during the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2023 held at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 1-4, seeks to build a proficient workforce to enhance the tourism experience in Sharjah.

The new initiative comprises four specialised training programmes, including 'Explore the Desert with Rehlati' in collaboration with Mleiha Archaeological Centre, 'Explore Nature with Rehlati' in collaboration with Sharjah's Environment and Protected Areas Authority, 'Explore Heritage with Rehlati’ in collaboration with Sharjah Institute for Heritage, and 'Explore History with Rehlati’ in collaboration with Sharjah Museums Authority.

Sharjah pavilion attracts heavy footfall
The SCTDA is overseeing the emirate's pavilion at ATM 2023, and turning the spotlight on the offerings of 20 government and private entities from the tourism, travel, and hospitality sectors. The pavilion aims to showcase Sharjah's competitive and innovative edge, along with its diverse tourism destinations, while also creating opportunities for collaboration with other global tourism destinations.

Visitors and participants are showing a great deal of interest in the Sharjah pavilion, which provided a close-up view of the emirate's tourism sector and its leadership in sustainable tourism. The pavilion displayed a variety of eco-tourism options, as well as cultural, sports, adventure and many other tourism destinations that reflect the emirate's rich cultural, historical, environmental, social, and economic diversity and abundance.

In addition, the pavilion highlighted the various government entities' efforts to achieve digital transformation, integrate technology into the tourism sector, and promote sustainability, in line with the ATM 2023 theme "Working Towards Net Zero" and the UAE's "Year of Sustainability." These efforts reflect the commitment of Sharjah towards sustainable development and its dedication to preserving the environment for future generations.

This year's Sharjah pavilion at ATM stands out for its interactive tours that offer visitors a real-life experience of the emirate's unique destinations. The pavilion features the "MetaVerse," a world-exclusive to Sharjah, and 360° Augmented Reality technology that allows visitors to navigate through the corridors of the Sharjah Classic Cars Museum. Additionally, the pavilion showcases Sharjah museums experience and Sharjah Formula 1 high-speed team boats to promote the "Sharjah World Championship Week," one of the most exciting and distinguished water sports events in the emirate and the region. The pavilion also includes a virtual sports experience with a kayak simulator, offering visitors a chance to explore Sharjah's various water and sea destinations.

Developing human capital as a driver for tourism sector
The ‘Rehlati’ programme will offer an in-depth range of international-standard tour guiding programmes to enable Emirati tour guides to be knowledgeable stewards of culture and heritage. Targeting key pillars in Sharjah's tourism offerings, the programme is set to equip them with extensive knowledge on Sharjah's history, heritage, and its environmental diversity across desert, mountains, and coastal landscapes, providing a wholesome understanding of the emirate to convey this knowledge to tourists.

As part of their participation agenda, the SCTDA's Industry Professional Training Department (IPTD) held a workshop on the sidelines of the exhibition in collaboration with BEEAH Group titled ‘The Sustainable Lifestyle’, which explored sustainable practices, how to minimise carbon footprint, ways to adopt a sustainable lifestyle and a more sustainable future by individuals, corporate and countries alike. The Sharjah delegation also held high-level meetings with countries' representatives and local and international companies to explore cooperation opportunities and expertise exchange.

Significant growth in the tourism and hospitality
His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of SCTDA, said: "Over the course of 15 years, the Authority has been instrumental in bolstering Sharjah's leading position on the world tourism stage, particularly in terms of sustainable tourism practices, in line with the vision and directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, which aims to achieve comprehensive sustainability. SCTDA has undertaken projects and initiatives that directly and indirectly support crucial sectors vital to the national economy and prioritises sustainability and green economy.

He added: "Investing in human capital is a key aspect of our strategy for sustainable tourism development and the launch of the first-of-its-kind ‘Rehlati’ programme in Sharjah, is a key step in this direction. This initiative aims to enhance the skills and knowledge of our national workforce in several key aspects related to the industry, such as heritage, nature, environment, desert, history, and more.” 

“We firmly believe in our ability to foster the growth of the sector by prioritising people and empowering them to further develop their skills, as evidenced by the launch of this programme. Such initiatives inspire us to continue driving the growth of the tourism sector, which has recorded an impressive 28% growth compared to 2021." Al Midfa remarked. 

Promoting largest safari outside Africa
Her Excellency Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, Chairperson of the Environment and Protected Areas Authority in Sharjah (EPAA), said: "Through participation at the ATM this year, EPAA is focusing on showcasing Sharjah Safari, the largest safari in the world outside Africa and and one of the foremost ecotourism destinations in the region. We want to highlight the incredible work we are doing to promote conservation and protection of the environment and Sharjah Safari, the Authority's flagship project, offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience and explore the natural beauty of Africa without leaving the UAE.”

She added: “Participation in exhibitions and events is an essential part of our strategy to promote EPAA's programmes and build strong relationships with authorities, agencies, and visitors who share our passion for the environment. This is also consistent with the Sharjah government's approach, which prioritises introducing and promoting Sharjah to a global audience."

Shining with global aviation accreditation
His Excellency Ali Salim Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Airport Authority, said: "Sharjah Airport is the first airport in the GCC and the second in the Middle East to achieve Level 3+ Neutrality accreditation, awarded when annual net carbon dioxide emissions are zero. We are fully committed to implementing environmentally-friendly technologies and practices in all our operations and our sustainability-based strategy aligns with our vision of becoming a leader in the aviation industry, not only in the region but globally.”

The chairman continued: "Our participation in this ATM edition allows us to highlight our most notable successes and expertise at Sharjah Airport, as well as highlight the smart solutions and advanced sustainable technologies we employ to manage the airport's operations, which ensure a seamless travel experience for our passengers."

Sports Clubs Race for Rationalisation
His Excellency Issa Hilal Al Hazami, Chairman of Sharjah Sports Council, expressed his happiness for participating in ATM and said: "Sharjah's rich cultural and sporting heritage has enabled us to achieve numerous accolades, including the prestigious Sharjah Green Award presented by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The 'Clubs Race for Rationalization' project was the first of its kind in the country, showcasing our commitment to environmental and societal practices. As part of our continuous efforts towards sustainability, we have launched the Sports Sustainability Award, highlighting our community-centric approach to promoting awareness and rationalisation through sports. Our participation in this event provides an ideal platform to showcase our achievements and community initiatives." 

Exceptional experiences on a regional level
For his part, His Excellency Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer, CEO of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), said: “Over the past decade, Sharjah has been leading the charge in offering some of the most exceptional and authentic experiences in travel and tourism this region has to offer. Our participation at ATM this year under the SCTDA umbrella has turned the spotlight on Shurooq’s latest projects and innovations that are boosting the emirate’s profile for travellers, businesses and investors alike. We have been extremely pleased with the enthusiastic reception our new developments in sub-sectors of eco-luxury hospitality, adventure, mixed use projects, and more, have received from the region’s leading industry professionals.” 

He added: “We have returned to ATM for 16 consecutive years as the event offers us an exceptional networking platform with industry stakeholders, discuss collaboration opportunities and also showcase our continued commitment to balancing our business goals with our passion for driving sustainability. And our participation this year is leading us towards new avenues of collaboration, innovation and progress with like minded partners.”

BEEAH Group – a model for sustainability
His Excellency Khaled Al Huraimel, Group CEO of BEEAH Group, highlighted the importance of sustainable waste management and the role it plays in supporting the tourism sector's growth. He said: "Through our participation, we are showcasing the iconic BEEAH Headquarters, a blueprint for future sustainable, smart cities and a prominent cultural hub. We are also shining light on the Emirates Waste to Energy (EWTE) plant, one of our many achievements that redefine our energy economy, aiming to make Sharjah the Middle East's first zero-waste city.”

Incubator for classic cars enthusiasts
His Excellency Dr. Ali Ahmed Abu Al- Zoud, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Sharjah Old Cars Club, emphasised the strategic importance of showcasing the Club's collection of vintage cars and its unique approach towards preserving the cultural heritage of the automotive industry. “The Club's participation in the ATM event reflects the organisation's focus on utilising innovative tools and techniques to attract tourists and promote the culture of acquiring classic cars. With the use of advanced virtual reality and augmented reality technologies, visitors can now immerse themselves in the world of classic cars from the 1950s and experience the Sharjah Old Cars Club Museum like never before. As an Emirate that values and celebrates its rich history and traditions, Sharjah is the ideal destination for automotive enthusiasts seeking to explore the beauty and elegance of vintage vehicles.”

16 per cent increase in Sharjah’s hotel guests occupancy
SCDTA has revealed a remarkable increase in hotel guests' occupancy rate by 16% in 2022. The number of GCC hotel guests to the emirate also surged by 161% compared to the previous year, reflecting the sustained efforts of SCTDA to enhance tourism and strengthen partnerships with its neighboring countries. The Russian market emerged as a significant contributor to Sharjah's tourism industry, with a notable 49% increase in the number of tourists compared to 2021, reaching over 165,000 guests and accounting for 12% of total hotel guests in Sharjah. The emirate is expected to witness an increase in the number of visitors in the years to come.
May 03, 2023 / 4:47 PM

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