Ras Al Khaimah, the Northernmost Emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is bucking post-pandemic tourism trends with exceptional growth and a £96-million investment in its industry. According to Raki Phillips, CEO of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), the Emirate’s tourism figures recorded a drop of 25%, yet around three times less severe than the global average coming out of the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic. The destination is now embarking on a major journey of development of its tourism offering, with a multi-million-pound investment into sustainable tourism projects.
Phillips, who became CEO of RAKTDA in June 2019 after a career working for Ritz-Carlton Hotels, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Universal Studios Orlando, says the destination is well placed to attract travellers in the wake of the pandemic:
“Despite the challenges the global tourism industry has faced in the last eighteen months, we are committed to promoting Ras Al Khaimah for visitors in ways that are meaningful to their travel experience. Aligned with this approach is our commitment to ensure the safety and security of all our guests as they enjoy the warmer weather and take full advantage of Ras Al Khaimah’s many great outdoor attractions from beaches to mountains; culture to adventure and much more.”
According to Bloomberg, the UAE has taken the lead in becoming the world’s most vaccinated nation, with 15.5 million doses, enough to cover 72.1% of the population.
The Financial Times Report also states that the UAE has given the highest doses of the vaccine, when compared globally.
In 2020, Ras Al Khaimah was the first city worldwide to receive the ‘Safeguard Assurance’ label from Bureau Veritas, as well as the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Safe Travels stamp. It was also the first destination to offer free return PCR tests to inbound travellers which continues to this day, making it a leader in tourism in the post-pandemic world.
Phillips has lofty goals for tourism in Ras Al Khaimah, the UAE’s northernmost Emirate and the current Gulf Tourism Capital for 2021, as he intends to bring in over 3 million visitors a year by 2030.
A huge part of this effort is the £96-million investment into sustainable tourism projects within the Emirate, including brand new accommodation and glamping developments in the mountains, an eco-golf course and a scallop farm.
In partnership with Arton Capital, a leading government advisory company, RAKTDA launched ‘SelectRAK’ – an attractive, seamless ‘one stop shop’ foreign investment programme appealing to a variety of investors from real estate to entrepreneurs and retirees.
Its aim is to accelerate affordable luxury as a key benefit, bolster the local economy and attract international talent and experience in the sector. The initiative will help build all core economic sectors, including healthcare, hospitality, education, trade, and retail, in turn, creating new jobs and supporting domestic enterprises.
Ras Al Khaimah has also been working with EarthCheck, the global environmental experts, to create destination wide sustainable practices, including carbon off-set, a decrease in energy and water consumption across all hotels and attractions, and tourist site clean-ups as well as cultural preservation, community outreach and scholarship programs for local colleges and universities.
The Emirate’s goal of welcoming 3 million visitors a year by 2030 is clearly evident, not just by recent airline partnerships welcoming charter and commercial flights from Russia, Eastern Europe and Asia directly into Ras Al Khaimah, but also with plans to increase hotel room inventory by 70% over the next few years, with global brands including Movenpick, InterContinental, Anantara, Radisson and more. Two billion people live within a four-hour flight of the UAE and Ras Al Khaimah: proximity, airlift and connectivity as well as the uniqueness of the destination will continue to position the Emirate as a preferred tourism destination.