With the UAE moving to the UK’s Amber list, the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is all set welcome back guests and meet the challenges and demands of the new normal.
Ras Al Khaimah is bucking post-pandemic tourism trends with exceptional growth and a £96-million ($133 million) investment in its industry. According to Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) CEO Raki Phillips the 25 per cent drop in the emirate’s tourism figures were around three times less severe than the global average at the peak of the pandemic and in July 2021 Ras Al Khaimah set a new record for visitor numbers.
The city is the first in the world to receive the ‘Safeguard Assurance’ label from Bureau Veritas; the first to gain the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Safe Travels stamp; the first to offer free return PCR tests to inbound travelers which continues to this day and is a regional leader in adventure and outdoor activities, along with sustainable tourism initiatives.
“The UK is one of our top source markets, so we are delighted that the UAE is now on its Amber list. Speaking to travelers from our key markets, we have gleaned insights into travel preferences in the new normal.” said Phillips.
“Our guests want space, fresh air and the confidence that they are safe, as they take full advantage of Ras Al Khaimah’s many outdoor attractions from beaches to mountains; culture to adventure and much more.”
The destination is now embarking on a journey to develop its tourism offering by investing millions in sustainable tourism projects.
These include expanding the nature and adventure sports portfolios; building environmentally-friendly mountain accommodation; the construction of an eco-golf course and a scallop farm at which guests will be encouraged to dive for their dinner.
The emirate is offering UK families the chance to visit this summer with a ‘WANASA’ summer campaign running until September. This includes discounts at 3-, 4- and 5-star hotels for a stay of over three nights, with children under 12 going free.
Phillips has lofty goals for tourism in Ras Al Khaimah, the Gulf Tourism Capital for 2021, as he intends to bring in over three million visitors a year by 2030.
RAKTDA launched the ‘SelectRAK’ – a seamless ‘one stop shop’ foreign investment program appealing to 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 three million visitors a year by 2030 is 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 per cent with global brands including Movenpick, InterContinental, Anantara, Radisson and more.