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Abu Dhabi and Dubai may be hogging the limelight, but Fujairah, on the eastern fringe of the UAE, has seen a steady rise in the number of tourists.
As per figures provided by the Fujairah Tourism & Antiquities Authority, around 750,000 tourists visited the emirate in 2011, but their numbers rose by an impressive 60 per cent to 1.2 million in 2012. According to estimates, there was a further boost in the number in 2013, and most of the hotels have witnessed around 15 per cent rise in occupancy.
Encouraged by the trends, around five new hotels to be run by international hotel chains are in various stages of construction and are expected to be operational by this year. The emirate known for its beaches and wadi trails currently has around 2,800 hotel rooms across 20 hotels, but 1,700 additional rooms are likely to be added. Many of the existing hotels are also undergoing expansion.
Fujairah prides itself as a great snorkeling and diving destination which has added to the rising number of foreign tourists. It is the emirate which receives the highest rainfall in the UAE making it a perfect weekend getaway for Dubai and Abu Dhabi residents during harsh summers.
Easy road connectivity from Dubai and Abu Dhabi has added to the popularity of Fujairah. While it takes just 45 minutes to reach the emirate from Dubai, driving time from the UAE capital is around three hours. A new highway linking Abu Dhabi with Fujairah has been proposed with speed allowed up to 200 km/h.
The emirate also has an airport which is hoping to ride on the tourism growth to expand operations. It is planning to provide flight connections to Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar in a move to attract more tourists from the GCC countries. With the Dubai International Airport set to scale down operations in 2014 due to runway works, some of the airlines might use the Fujairah International Airport.
• The number of Fujairah tourists rose by 60% from 2011 to 2012
• Five new hotels are expected to open in 2014 adding 1,700 rooms
• Major airlines likely to operate from Fujairah airport in the future
Source: S. Dhar, Special to Properties, gulfnews.com
The writer is a freelancer