The Sharjah Tourist Guides Program 2012, an initiative of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority and University of Sharjah, concluded successfully this week, with a new batch of 18 tourism professionals looking forward to joining the UAE\'s fast growing tourism industry if they all clear the final examination. On the occasion of the conclusion of the course, SCTDA Chairman Mohamed Ali Al Noman said that the Sharjah Tourist Guides Program was initiated by the Authority and University of Sharjah to meet the tourism industry\'s growing demand for professional and certified tourist guides. \"This is a reflection of the spectacular growth of the tourism sector in Sharjah and the UAE,\" said Al Noman. Tourist guides play a crucial role in promoting tourism and forming of tourists\' perception of a tourist destination as they are the first and last point of contact between a destination and visitors, pointed out the SCTDA Chairman. Emphasising that tourism is the driver of economic growth for any country, he said, \"It\'s all the more true in the case of Sharjah and the UAE. Sharjah\'s tourism sector has not just established itself on the world tourism map, it has emerged as a major contributor to the national economy and growth of the country.\" Al Noman said that since the program was launched in 2010 by the Authority, it has been developing and growing in steady steps, providing professional tourists guides with the right and necessary knowledge and orientation to introduce Sharjah\'s tourism product to the visitors from across the region and the world. He said that the growing tourism industry of Sharjah and the UAE that increasingly attracts the Europeans and Asians as well as visitors from neighbouring Gulf Arab states today demands world class tourism professionals and services. The professional class this year includes 18 tourist guides hailing from nine nationalities, including Syria, Germany, China, Russia, India, Sri Lanka, Poland, Brazil, and Colombia. As part of the 11 days program, trainees were given theory lessons as well as practical training. The tourist guides trainees, who came from a rich mix of nationalities from around the world, were given a firm footing in the history of Sharjah, the UAE and the region, apart from being updated on the latest trends and developments in the tourism sector. This is the first program this year and there will be two more sessions in September and October. With this batch, the total number of professional tourists guides trained by the SCTDA and University of Sharjah will reach 88.