Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority
THE RAS Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) was established in May, 2011 as a Government entity of Ras Al Khaimah. RAKTDA’s main purpose was and is to develop and promote the Emirate’s tourism infrastructure and potential both domestically and abroad, and to establish Ras Al Khaimah as a destination that delivers a comprehensive set of offerings to visitors, from luxury through to affordable travel.
In order to achieve its goals, RAKTDA has a Government mandate to license, regulate and monitor the Emirate’s tourism and hospitality industry, to develop the Emirate’s tourism infrastructure and attractions, and to generate and encourage direct tourism investment and investment opportunities into Ras Al Khaimah.
RAKTDA’s ambition is therefore to advance the development of a sustainable and competitive tourism industry by working with the industry and other stakeholders to achieve its targets for visitor numbers, revenue and job creation. Q EME Outlook (EME): Since inception, how has the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority developed and progressed in terms of its key objectives and the messages it tries to get across?
Haitham Matter, RAKTDA (HM): Ras Al Khaimah is now one of the fastest growing tourism destinations. In 2016, we welcomed 820,772 visitors, a 10.9 percent year-on-year increase. Full year figures show impressive growth from all our top markets; Germany, UK, Russia and India.
In addition to double-digit year-onyear growth in international guest arrivals during H1, 2017, average hotel occupancy jumped to 72.7 percent, an increase of 4.7 percent on the corresponding six-month period in 2016.
Robust H1 growth was posted across all key performance indicators with total guest nights up 17 percent, the average length of stay up by 10.5 percent and room revenue up by 13.3 percent.
These strong performance figures indicate that Ras Al Khaimah is on track to welcome 900,000 visitors in 2017. By the end of 2018, our target is to reach one million visitors.
Q EME: Taking a more general industry stance, how would you evaluate the tourism sector in Ras Al Khaimah now compared to its condition when the Tourism Development Authority began?
HM: Ras Al Khaimah’s tourism strategy involves attracting high-yield segments from core target markets to create a more sustainable destination. These core markets include the UAE, Germany, Russia & CIS, UK, India and Western and Northern Europe.
Furthermore, we will target both consumer (cultural explorers, adventurers and wellness seekers) and corporate (travel trade, investors, industry, government and community) audiences.
These markets not only outline our product differentiation, but they also
allow us to promote Ras Al Khaimah’s USPs, including 64 kilometres of pristine beaches, the highest mountains in the UAE, hot springs, mangroves and a terracotta desert.
[Meanwhile], a key area for hotel growth is Al Marjan Island, an archipelago stretching 4.5 kilometres out to sea. Already boasting the Rixos Bab Al Bahr, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Resort & Spa Marjan Island, and Marjan Island Resort & Spa, managed by AccorHotels, the island has been earmarked for an additional 20 hotels by 2025.
Working with independent assessors, we have outlined strong return on beach and mountain properties. Looking at beach resorts in particular, existing hotels have shown high profit conversion when compared to similar regional markets.
Q EME: What is in store for Ras Al Khaimah for the remainder of 2017 and beyond to continue the good work already commenced and to enhance its reputation as a tourism and business travel hub further in the future?
HM: For the rest of 2017, we will be promoting Destination Jebel Jais, which includes development projects focused on the UAE’s highest mountain. These projects spearhead a drive to transform Jebel Jais into an adventure activity hub: including the Jebel Jais Via Ferrata, the Gulf’s first commercial iron path; the Jebel Jais Viewing Deck overlooking the Hajar Mountains; and in Q4, the world’s longest zip line.
All of our upcoming tourism products have been designed to enhance our natural assets and protect the environment. For example, construction on our observation deck utilises environmentally-friendly resources, such as LED lighting, solar panels and photovoltaic fabric materials to allow for clean energy operations.
Looking to the future, we plan to achieve continued growth from all our key markets. Specifically, we look forward to welcoming one million visitors by the end of 2018.
Meanwhile, new product launches, representation offices and trade partners, along with increased marketing and promotional activities and overseas roadshows with trade and media, will all help to raise awareness, boost visitor arrivals and diversify our source markets.
Q EME: Finally, what progress and development would you hope and expect to be able to report back in the future for both the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority and Ras Al Khaimah as a whole?
HM: Our vision is to create a sustainable and competitive tourism destination and a leading contributor to the Ras Al Khaimah economy. We will inspire people from around the world to visit the Emirate and grow tourism into Ras Al Khaimah’s leading socio-economic driver, enhancing the quality of life for residents and offering investors attractive and sustainable opportunities across multiple sectors.