Although Sharjah’s tourism sector has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, as have all components of the economy, government support and stimulus packages have been helping this vital sector take on the challenge, said a report citing Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA).
Domestic tourism has largely softened the blow and is now proving to be the mainstay of the tourism sector in the emirate in the wake of the Covid-19 challenge, news agency WAM reported.
Thanks to government intervention, the UAE as a whole has successfully weathered the storm and now has a brighter future ahead, Al Midfa stressed. "Recovery to pre-crisis levels may probably take longer than first predicted with a more widespread re-opening of borders yet to unfold. We must also factor in the long-term changes in travel behaviour as a result of the crisis," he added.
Listing out the strategies being employed by the Sharjah government to revive the tourism sector, Al Midfa said that the emirate is working to restore the traveller confidence through measures such as the "Sharjah Safe for Travel Stamp" and constant monitoring of the tourist attractions and hospitality establishments in collaboration with the Sharjah Health Authority.
"We have focused much of our recovery policy on supporting the tourism businesses to adapt successfully to new challenges while putting together policy measures that will provide financial relief to struggling businesses in the tourism sector," he stated.
The SCTDA has been maintaining strategic connections with the key markets where Sharjah’s presence continues to be highlighted through several media and advertising channels with strong promotional campaigns. Al Midfa stressed that the emirate has been aggressively targeting international markets by carrying out promotions overseas in preparation for the post-Covid-19 period and looking at opportunities for the potential development of the sector, through diversification into adventure and nature tourism, education and research tourism, and sports tourism. The adoption of digital solutions and experiences are also playing a part in the strategy to tackle tourism post-Covid, the report said.
"We can be more confident about domestic tourism as the circumstances of international travel and border controls are some way off from becoming settled. Our domestic travellers can offset greater spending on leisure and dining against travel costs," he added.
Al Midfa lauded the tourism and hospitality sector in the country on its smart and successful handling of the Covid-19 challenge.
"The response by our hotels and hoteliers to the crisis is to be commended, as they have reimagined the guest experience and engaged with guests in an effective manner as all our venues and attractions continue to do as we reopen to visitors."
"Sharjah has been extremely proactive in making use of the initiative, leveraging valuable exposure for our destinations while promoting a large number of offers and package deals compiled by our hospitality establishments and stakeholders," he added.
The SCTDA Chairman said Sharjah have been employing innovative methods to attract new tourists and strengthen its presence in all markets. "International sales teams and key agents have benefitted from online training schemes and webinars as a component of our strategy to enhance connectivity and attract new markets. Strong partnerships within the airline industry remain a major part of our marketing plans to forge collaborations and joint activities promoting Sharjah and raising awareness on destination offerings."
Social media and online campaigns have been valuable for our messaging, allowing us to focus on maintaining a strong presence in these markets. Familiarisation trips for the media and trade journals are another way of showcasing Sharjah in these markets.