Ras Al Khaimah Rebound: Nature Emirate Returns to Pre-Pandemic Visitor Numbers in First Half 2022
Ras Al Khaimah welcomed 521,085 visitors between January – June 2022, marking a return to pre-pandemic levels and a 21% increase on the same period in 2021Report follows a series of strategic investments, partnerships and sustainability initiatives to boost tourism in the northernmost Emirate, setting path for further growth in 2022 and beyond.
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) announces its highest visitor numbers since the onset of Covid-19, with the Emirate reporting visitor arrival numbers in line with pre-pandemic footfall across the first six months of 2022.
The impressive H1 performance saw the Emirate welcome over 521,085 international and domestics visitors between January and June 2022, a total increase of +21% vs H1 2021 and a return to pre-pandemic figures from YTD June 2019.
Enhanced tourism and hospitality offering
The Emirate’s strong performance in 2022 was bolstered by the opening of several new hotels and resorts, including Radisson Resort Ras Al Khaimah on Marjan Island, the InterContinental Mina Al Arab, the first InterContinental Hotels Group property in the Emirate, and most recently, the debut of Mövenpick at Al Marjan Island, located on a 300-metre stretch of golden shoreline and home to the largest floating water park in Ras Al Khaimah. The Emirate now boasts over 8,000 keys, with 4,617 new keys in the pipeline over the next few years.
Celebrated for its outstanding nature, adventurous leisure, and authentic offerings, Ras Al Khaimah has quickly become one of the most sought-after sustainable destinations in the Middle East, most recently being included in Time magazine’s World’s Greatest Places of 2022. The annual list, which features 50 must-visit global destinations, highlighted Ras Al Khaimah for its adventure offerings and stunning, unique topography and geodiversity. In recognition of the Emirate’s incredible natural surroundings, the Authority has continued its development of sustainable new attractions to draw visitors both locally and internationally. A key new attraction to open was the Jais Sledder, the region’s longest toboggan ride, spanning over 1,840 exhilarating metres of hairpin curves and reaching speeds of up to 40 kilometres per hour. Jais Sledder has welcomed over 54,000 visitors since opening in February.
Commenting on the fast rebound of tourism in the Emirate, Raki Phillips, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, said: “Ras A Khaimah is one of the first destinations in the region to recover to pre-Covid levels thanks to the agility of our tourism community during the pandemic. This is all the more remarkable given the current economic and geo-political landscape in which we operate that drives our focus on what’s important for long term resilience – diversification, community and sustainability. Our investment strategy, which focuses on exactly that, has been central to our fast rebound. We are on track to reach more than 1.11 million arrivals by the end of the year and to fully return to pre-pandemic levels in just two years.”
Underpinning Ras Al Khaimah’s return to above pre-pandemic visitor numbers is the Authority’s commitment to building a sustainable destination. Announced at the 2022 Arabian Travel Market, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority has adopted a bold new approach to sustainability – Balanced Tourism – marking a key milestone in its strategy to drive overall growth and become the regional leader in sustainable tourism by 2025.
The Authority is committed to shaping tourism in the UAE by placing all aspects of sustainability at the centre of its investment and development strategy to create a destination that will resonate with today’s responsible traveller.
As such, it unveiled a Tourism Business Accreditation Program that will also provide a management framework to help individual businesses grow their sustainability efforts as a means of benchmarking their performance. It is anticipated that over 30 businesses will receive tourism certifications in the first year of the program. Additionally, the Authority launched the Destination Certification Program which provides a firm basis for action on sustainable management. The Objective is to obtain the “Sustainable Tourism Destination” certificate for Ras Al Khaimah in 2023, which is internationally recognized.
Driving further growth for 2022 and beyond
With the ambition to further drive visitor numbers for the duration of 2022, the Authority has recently announced a series of strategic partnerships with airlines and leading tour operators to target emerging and growing source markets. This includes the introduction of new direct flight routes, with the Emirate set to welcome several new weekly flights from major cities in Germany, including Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and Munich. To further boost connectivity, the Authority is developing the Emirate’s burgeoning cruise sector, with the aim of attracting 50 cruise ship calls each season, and over 10,000 passengers within the next few years.
Additionally announced at the beginning of 2022 was the multibillion-dollar integrated resort development with Wynn Resorts. Scheduled to open in 2026, the multipurpose integrated resort marks the largest-of-its-kind foreign direct investment in Ras Al Khaimah. The resort will be home to more than 1,000 rooms, shopping, meeting and convention facilities, spa, more than 10 restaurants and lounges, extensive entertainment choices, and a gaming area, set to further boost visitor numbers in the coming years.
World-class events pipeline
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority is further focusing on promoting the Emirate as a leading sporting and MICE destination in the Gulf to boost tourism, announcing a number of strategic event partnerships secured in the first half of 2022. With a strong track record of successfully staging international sporting events, such as the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon – the world’s fastest half marathon which attracts more than 5,000 participants a year – the Emirate was recently selected by The World Minifootball Federation (WMF) to stage its biennial international football competition. A mega international football competition held every two years, the 2023 Minifootball World Cup will further attract thousands of spectators and fans from around the globe to experience the Emirates unique tourism and hospitality offering.
“Already one of the fastest growing destinations in the region, the first half of 2022 has set us off on a very strong trajectory for the year. It is great to see the strategic investments made by the Authority throughout a very challenging period yield such strong results,”concluded Phillips. “As Ras Al Khaimah continues to expand its tourism, we expect to go from strength to strength, inviting more visitors from around the world to discover our stunning nature Emirate.”
To find out more about the wealth of experiences in Ras Al Khaimah, please visit visitrasalkhaimah.com or visitjebeljais.com and or check out the Emirate’s social platforms Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.