BERLIN: The emirate of Sharjah witnessed a significant increase in European guests visiting the emirate in 2023, welcoming more than 400,000 visitors from the European market. This marks a notable 28 percent increase compared to the previous year, with Europeans constituting 27 percent of the total visitor count.

Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) made the announcement during its press conference on Wednesday as part of the authority’s participation in ITB Berlin 2024, the world’s leading travel trade show, which runs until 7 March under the theme ‘Pioneer the Transition in Travel & Tourism. Together’.

As part of its participation, Sharjah is highlighting its comprehensive vision for tourism, showcasing the emirate's prominent landmarks and unique tourist destinations that have positioned Sharjah as a preferred destination among Europeans, particularly German tourists who rank second in the total number of Western Europe visitors to Sharjah.

Within the Sharjah Pavilion, SCTDA brings together 19 government and private entities from the emirate. This collective is showcasing a vibrant array of tourism, hospitality, cultural, and entertainment institutions and facilities, highlighting Sharjah's rich diversity of destinations, offerings, and services and further cementing its stance as a premier tourist destination in the region.

The emirate’s delegation has also held a series of meetings and engagements with investors and business leaders interested in the tourism and trade sectors, and prospective global partners in tourism, travel, and hospitality management. Additionally, interviews with the European media took place, focusing on Sharjah's active participation and highlighting the latest innovations and experiences within the emirate's tourism sector.

Commenting on the participation, Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of SCTDA, said, "The upswing in European market guests stands as a clear testament to the tangible success achieved through our strategic development initiatives, translating into a substantial and positive contribution to the emirate's thriving economy.”

He added, “We take pride in these figures that demonstrate the positive impact on our tourism sector. This achievement is crucial in bolstering Sharjah's reputation amongst the European audience, as it represents an opportunity for further growth and an increased influx of European tourists, as well as the injection of more investments into our tourism infrastructure. We are committed to building on this success by innovating further in our tourism services, offerings and experiences. We believe that these statistics are not just numbers but represent genuine opportunities to elevate Sharjah's profile as a premier tourist destination within the region.”

At the pavilion, Sharjah's entities are showcasing the emirate's celebrated tourist attractions and their offerings in sustainable, environmental, adventure, and cultural tourism through advanced technologies. These include an exceptional 360° augmented reality experience, virtual reality and simulation experiences, and the immersive and life-like metaverse known as ‘SharjahVerse’. Sharjah's commitment to conserving cultural, environmental, and archaeological treasures, as well as a wide spectrum of experiences for tourists of all interests and ages, is on display for visitors.

Highlights include a thrilling high-speed boat journey with the Sharjah Formula 1 team and a kayaking-simulated adventure in partnership with the Sharjah International Marine Sports Club. The pavilion also invites visitors on a virtual journey exploring the evolution of the automotive industry, facilitated by the Sharjah Classic Cars Club, and offers an opportunity to delve into the emirate's rich museum collections via the Sharjah Museums Authority.

Furthermore, a virtual safari tour within a real safari vehicle provides a unique opportunity to explore Sharjah's diverse ecosystems and the flora and fauna inhabiting them in collaboration with the Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA). Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) is also offering an exceptional experience utilising VR technology to take visitors on a journey, enabling them to interact with a selection of the finest hospitality destinations and projects that embody its commitment to authenticity and the preservation of cultural heritage.