Region’s fastest growing tourism destination commits to sustainable tourism and further development of adventure and sports events across the emirate
Year-to-date visitor arrivals up almost 11% on 2015, driven by growth of UAE, Germany, UK, Russia and India
Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, 9 February 2017: Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), which develops the emirate’s tourism infrastructure and initiates its domestic and overseas promotions, has outlined its strategy for the remainder of this year following 10.9 per cent year-on-year growth of visitors to the emirate in 2016.
Hotels across the region’s fastest emerging tourism destination recorded a 10 per cent increase in occupancy throughout 2016, reporting an average of 71 per cent from January to December. Similar growth was posted across all key performance indicators with RevPAR increasing by 5.5 per cent year-on-year 2015, while Room Revenue grew 10 per cent.
Meanwhile, the emirate’s accommodation portfolio registered four per cent growth in Average Length of Stay, rising from 3.19 days in 2015 to 3.32 days last year.
“The continued growth in visitor numbers to Ras Al Khaimah reflects the strategic initiatives and promotional activities undertaken by the authority in domestic and international source markets during 2016. As the destination’s diverse tourism offering continues to mature, the last 12 months saw a series of significant developments including the opening of Jebel Jais Via Ferrata and the emirate hosting a number of international sporting events and conferences. Collectively, our achievements stimulated increased visitor numbers from both established source markets and emerging ones,” said Haitham Mattar, CEO of RAKTDA.
Year-on-year, the UAE continues to remain the most significant source market in terms of visitor numbers, accounting for 41.2 per cent of total visitors to Ras Al Khaimah last year. Internationally, Ras Al Khaimah’s four largest source markets each recorded double digit year-on-year growth in 2016, with German visitors up 24.6 per cent last year and now contributing one in 10 of all visitors to the emirate. The UK, Russia and India also reported similar visitor increases of 35 per cent, 19.5 per cent and 28 per cent, respectively.
Emerging destinations that showed significant growth last year include Kazakhstan, Egypt, the Philippines, and Czech Republic. Compared to 2015, these numbers increased by 205 per cent, 22.5 per cent, six per cent and 85 per cent, respectively. Other international source markets where RAKTDA is eyeing further growth in 2017 following significant increases in 2016 include Poland, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Finland, Switzerland, France and Denmark.
As part of the tourism authority’s overseas developments, RAKTDA has recently launched a new Chinese representation office in Shanghai, which formally opened in the first week of January. The office will support RAKTDA’s goal of attracting one million visitors to the emirate annually by the end of 2019 by promoting the destination among the country’s FITs (frequent individual travellers), who are continually looking for new tourism experiences. This follows the China National Tourism Administration’s plans to send 150 million travellers to countries along the ‘One Belt, One Road’.
“China is evolving into a vitally important source market for Ras Al Khaimah and, following our partnership with Ctrip in 2016, we have continued to welcome Chinese visitors to the emirate, who enjoy its culture, historic sights and heritage, while indulging in Ras Al Khaimah’s world class resorts. We are optimistic that through focused efforts and participation of various roadshows and trade events, China will continue to develop in coming years,” Mattar added.
Building on the successful launch of the region’s first commercial via ferrata and the hosting of major international sporting events such as the Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge – the penultimate stop of the European Challenge Tour - RAKTDA has outlined plans to enhance its sporting events portfolio and tourism products to leverage the emirate’s natural attributes. A key focus of this strategy includes rolling out policies and initiatives to support a recent partnership with UNWTO, which sees Ras Al Khaimah serve as a sponsor of the United Nation’s Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
“Ras Al Khaimah boasts a diverse array of natural landscapes that appeal to all walks of visitor, whether its beach-seekers, active adventurers or wellness seekers. Through a programme of careful development, we are intent on enhancing these attractions for the benefit of travellers and offering a sustainable tourism product pool which preserves the rich local culture and traditions that Ras Al Khaimah is known for,” Mattar explained.
Other product developments in 2017 include the opening of the world’s longest zip line, which was announced last year, and the launch of official cycling and hiking routes across the emirate, with a focus on Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest mountain peak.