Sharjah made a strong and successful debut at the COTTM Beijing (Chinese Outbound Travel and Tourism Marketing) exhibition held in the Chinese capital from April 9 to 11, 2014, with the Emirate reaching out to the massive Chinese tourism market and leaders of the industry in the region.
On the sidelines of the 3-day exhibition, HE Mohamed Ali Al Noman, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority held extensive meetings with top Chinese officials and tourism industry leaders in an effort to strengthen bilateral tourism relations and exchange and explore new avenues of cooperation and growth.
Al Noman received Dr Bin Dai, President of China Tourism Academy, and other top Chinese and Asian tourism officials at the Sharjah stand to brief them on new developments and opportunities in the Emirate’s tourism and hospitality sectors.
The SCTDA Chairman also held talks with Mr Cao Pengcheng, Vice Chairman, Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development, Ms Xu Wei Beijing Tourism Industry Association and Mr Lin Liang Director, Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development and Ms Carol Lieu, Deputy Director, City Image and Marketing, Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development.
Welcoming Al Noman to the Chinese capital, Mr Pengcheng pointed out that Beijing and Sharjah shared the bond of a strong heritage and cultural offering. Al Noman for his part briefed the visiting dignitaries about the latest developments in Sharjah, particularly about the Emirate’s celebrations as the Islamic Culture Capital for 2014.
The two sides exchanged their experiences and information on their inbound and outbound tourism statistics and consumer behaviours and trends. It was emphasised that both Beijing and Sharjah are important markets for each other.
While Beijing is seeking to attract more Middle Eastern visitors, the number of Chinese and Asian visitors to Sharjah has also been steadily growing. Mr Pengcheng also proposed for Sharjah to join the World City Alliance.
The two sides underscored the importance of future cooperation and strategic partnership terming it “extremely valuable”. In this regard, Al Noman and Mr Pengcheng agreed on several tactical initiatives including on sharing market knowledge and expertise; hosting promotional campaigns and creating opportunities for both destinations as part of a ‘Sharjah week’ in Beijing and ‘a Beijing week’ in Sharjah; and a cross-internship to strengthen the partnership, develop skills and deepen mutual understanding.
Al Noman said that he was pleased with the response Sharjah had received during its debut at the COTTM Beijing exhibition showcasing the best that it has to offer to the fast expanding Chinese and Asian tourism market. The Emirate attracted extraordinary attention of Chinese tourism industry players, investors and media.
“As the Cultural Capital of Arab and Islamic world and as a complete tourism destination distinguished for its heritage, rich cultural diversity and fascinating tourism landscape, world-class infrastructure and leisure options, Sharjah offers Chinese and Asian travelers and investors an attractive and distinct choice,” emphasised the SCTDA Chairman.
The meeting ended with a promise to proactively follow up the agenda and consider an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between both parties to see the initiatives come to fruition.
During the 3-day exhibition, Al Noman also offered a number of interviews with top Chinese and international publications including Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, Beijing TV, International Business Daily, DEEP Magazine and Golf Vacation and Lifestyle magazine etc.
On the sidelines of the Beijing exhibition, the Authority hosted a destination seminar/workshop about Sharjah’s tourism opportunities and its efforts to initiate a long-term strategy to tap this massive market. More than 70 leading industry players, tourism companies and tourism and travel media attended the workshop and presentation at Grand Hyatt.
Apart from shining the light on various tourist attractions, heritage and features of the Emirate, the presentation highlighted celebrated international festivals and events hosted by the Emirate including the Sharjah Light Festival, Sharjah Water Festival, Sharjah International Book Fair and Sharjah Heritage Days etc.
The initiative is part of the continuing efforts by the Emirate to target the immensely promising Chinese and Asian tourism market, which is the fastest growing in the world today, and attract more visitors from the region.
To target more Chinese and Asian visitors to Sharjah, which is currently celebrating its crowning as the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2014, the Authority is also planning a full-time representative office in Beijing among a number of other measures including year-long promotional activities and specially targeted campaigns across the region.
Sharjah’s stand at the COTTM Beijing exhibition showcased the best of Sharjah’s diverse tourism experience, its authentic Arab and Islamic heritage, year-long calendar of festivals and events and its endless leisure and shopping opportunities for the whole family. Led by the SCTDA, the Sharjah delegation included Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah, MH Group of Hotels, Golden Tulip Sharjah, Royal Grand Suite and Cozmo Travel among others.
The Emirate received more than 269,950 Asian tourists in 2013, representing 14% from the total 1.9 million visitors received by the Emirate which is being celebrated as the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2014. This month Sharjah is also hosting, from April 6 to 17, a huge contingent of more than 16,000 Chinese visitors.
In its 10th year now, COTTM Beijing is China’s leading outbound travel exhibition. The exclusive annual exhibition is regarded as the industry’s most important platform and remains the only business to business event that focuses purely on the burgeoning outbound market.