Ras Al Khaimah’s Sustainable Tourism Destination Strategy

Included in Time magazine’s World’s Greatest Places of 2022 and CNN Travel’s best destinations to visit in 2023, Ras Al Khaimah is a unique destination that offers visitors the chance to experience natural beauty and diverse landscapes. From the majestic Hajar mountains, pristine beaches to the Al Wadi Desert and nature reserve, there is no shortage of outdoor activities and attractions to explore in the Nature Emirate.
On a mission to not only protect its natural assets, but also engage the growing cohort of responsible travellers, Ras Al Khaimah has set its sights on becoming a regional leader in sustainable tourism by 2025. Underpinning this ambition is a ‘Balanced Tourism’ approach, with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) and multiple government and private stakeholders, known as the ‘Green Team’, working together to nurture a tourism industry that is economically, environmentally, culturally and socially sustainable.
It builds on the foundation of the emirate’s Sustainable Tourism Destination Strategy, successfully launched in September 2021 by RAKTDA and the Green Team in association with EarthCheck, the leading certification, consulting and advisory group for sustainable destinations and tourism organisations globally.
With sustainable, balanced, and focused developments at the heart of its strategies, the Emirate’s ambition is to nurture a tourism industry that is economically, environmentally, socially sustainable and supports liveability for its citizens and workforce, while conserving and enhancing its unique environment. With the strategy setting out a clear roadmap for sustainability implementation plans, two major programmes were launched in partnership with EarthCheck, according to its global guidelines, standards and certifications.


Destination Certification

Destination Certification aims to achieve sustainable certification for Ras Al Khaimah as a destination, boosting traveller confidence in the emirate’s commitment to sustainable and high-quality tourism experiences, and Responsible RAK is a Tourism Business Accreditation Programme for tourism companies, from hotels to attractions, with both initiatives on track to reach major milestones by the end of 2023.
EarthCheck’s Company and Destination Standards are approved by the Global Tourism Council and its carbon accounting methodology has been approved by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).
Ras Al Khaimah received Bronze Certification in March 2023, which similar to Responsible RAK, acknowledged the destination’s data collection and monitoring efforts. In May 2023, a week-long destination audit took place with a view to awarding Silver Certification if standards are met.
The certification standards include the effective formation of the destination’s Green Team, and a commitment to policy, benchmarking, compliance, and communication.
Destination Standard certifications are also upgraded every five years based on audits and strict criteria being met. In addition to EarthCheck compliance, RAKTDA and its Green Team continue to review the Sustainable Tourism Destination Strategy and ‘Balanced Tourism’ approach, publicly promoting the policies to all stakeholders, the public, employees, customers and visitors, and suppliers of goods and services to the destination. Since August 2022, RAKTDA has been working with EarthCheck to establish an ECSE policy and to benchmark the destination across several criteria, including:



Sustainability is at the heart of Ras Al Khaimah’s investment and development strategy, prioritising the environment, culture, conservation and communities, and committed to ensuring a resilient industry and an authentic, high-quality sustainable tourism experience.

Responsible RAK

This programme, developed according to EarthCheck’s Company Standards, is designed to help tourism businesses attain an internationally recognised sustainability certification. To date, more than 20 tourism businesses in Ras Al Khaimah, ranging from attractions to hotels, have been awarded EarthCheck’s Bronze Certification.
This has required each business to collect data, track business performance, identify critical issues and benchmark across criteria including energy use, water use, carbon emissions, community and employee impact, paper use, waste, and handling of hazardous materials.
Businesses were also required to develop mandatory documents such as sustainability policy, waste management plans, risk assessment, and action plans, creating a strong foundation for their data collection/benchmarking methodology, which can then be fine-tuned to help them make better decisions and track improvements in the future.
The Bronze Certification was awarded in recognition of the work that has gone into data collection and reporting. Silver Certification will be awarded when the entire process is completed And verified by an independent Earth-Check-authorised auditor.
With Responsible RAK designed to ensure consistency, commitment and continued improvement with regards to sustainability across all tourism businesses, the aim is to upgrade the certification level every five years, with Silver in years 1-4; Gold in years 5-9; Platinum in years 10-14; and Master in year 15-plus.
Audits for Silver Certification were conducted from May to July 2023 with those who meet criteria anticipated to be certified in the second half of the year. The audit process involves the auditor visiting the company undergoing certification, reviewing their documentation, conducting a tour of the facilities, and interviewing the personnel involved. This process must be repeated annually or biannually for companies to renew their certification.


Our journey to becoming regional leader in sustainable tourism by 2025

Since signing the ‘Sustainability Pledge’ in 2021, RAKTDA and its partners have cemented their long-term commitment with several initiatives, first establishing benchmarks to measure progress and in June 2022, launching the Sustainable Tourism Strategy Implementation Plan. It comprises two sustainability programmes delivered in partnership with EarthCheck, one securing an internationally recognised ‘Sustainable Tourism Destination’ certificate and the other, Responsible RAK, an auditing and certification framework for tourism businesses to measure and benchmark their sustainability data, with more than 20 hotels and attractions already on board. With Ras Al Khaimah and some hotels already achieving EarthCheck Bronze Status and Silver Status anticipated in 2023, the long-term goal is to progress to the highest certification in year 15 of the programmes and beyond.

Highlighted Attractions

Responsible RAK Hotels

Responsible RAK Hotels are properties adhering to EarthCheck’s Company Standards, with a view to attaining internationally recognised sustainability certification that is audited annually and can be promoted globally. Certification highlights a hotel’s sustainability pathway and demonstrates a commitment to offering exceptional tourism experiences, which ultimately benefits business.


If you have any enquiries or need additional information about the Responsible RAK programme, or wish to get your tourism business Responsible RAK-certified, please get in touch with us.
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority is committed to achieving the best environmental and social sustainability practices and is part of the Responsible RAK program. Click here to view our Sustainability Policy.


Ras Al Khaimah has set its sights on becoming a regional leader in sustainable tourism by 2025.