One of the seven United Arab Emirates is enjoying a record-breaking year for tourism.
Ras Al Khaimah has reported its highest-ever half-year arrival numbers, with 600,000 visitors between January and June 2023, an increase of almost 15% over the same period last year.
The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) puts the growth down to establishing an image as “a destination of the future”, a series of strategic investments, partnerships, and initiatives to boost the country’s appeal among tourists.
“This year is shaping up to be the Emirate’s best year to date, with our first half results proving the efficacy of moving fast, staying relevant and just getting things done,” said Raki Phillips, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.
Fuelling the growth in tourism is the addition of new hotel brands over the past year that has resulted in a 34% increase in demand for room nights, the introduction of civil law marriage licenses and new wedding incentive and certification programmes to bolster the Emirate’s position as a wedding destination, and the emirate’s emergence as a cruise destination, with six calls this year by four luxury cruise liners including Azamara Quest, one of the largest ships ever to arrive in the Emirate, Emerald Azzurra and super mega-yacht The World (Residences at Sea), that brought over 2,500 passengers and crew.
An aviation partnership with Qatar Airways will open up the emirate to the airline’s 150-plus country global network when daily flights between Doha and to Ras Al Khaimah International Airport start on November 1.
Future plans include a raft of new hotels, with Minor Hotels’ Anantara Mina Al Arab Al Khaimah Resort (174 keys) and Sofitel Al Hamra (300 keys) set to open this year, while future years will see the addition of Westin Resort (257 keys) in 2024, Le Méridien Al Marjan Island Resort (350 keys, and Earth Shore Al Marjan Island (265 keys) in 2025 and Nobu Al Marjan Island (165 keys) in 2026.
Mina Al Arab will be the brand’s ninth property in the UAE. It will be set along the Arabian Gulf coastline on Mina Al Arab Island, with the Hajar mountains proving the backdrop. The resort will be a 45-minute drive from Dubai International Airport.
The $3.9 billion Wynn Al Marjan Island, the largest foreign direct tourism investment project, is set to open in early 2027. The integrated resort’s design vision was unveiled earlier this year and will include 1,500-plus rooms, suites, and villas, a shopping, a gaming area, an events center, wellness and spa facilities, 24 dining and lounge experiences, and extensive entertainment options.
Ras Al Khaimah is emerging as he UAE’s ‘adventure capital’ with popular activities that include a desert safari; Jais Flight, the longest zipline in the world at 2,83km atop the cloud-piercing Jebel Jais mountain peak; The Bear Grylls
Explorers Camp; hiking on mountain trails; and Sonara Camp Al Wadi, set in the the grounds of the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi among the Arabian wilderness with herds of Oryx and Gazelle.
The RAKTDA has outlined a vision for the Emirate to become a regional leader in Sustainable Tourism by 2025.
Its Sustainable Tourism Strategy Implementation Plan, ‘Responsible RAK’, has been created in partnership with EarthCheck, the leading scientific benchmarking, certification, and advisory group for travel and tourism. This involves collecting clean data from hotels and attractions against 10 performance metrics, from carbon offsets to landfill diversion to gender parity. visitrasalkhaimah.com