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Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority announced the winner of its adventure innovation challenge, an initiative launched in collaboration with the George Washington University’s International Institute of Tourism Studies. The challenge saw students from across the globe tasked to develop strategies for adventure sport events that will bring adventure travel enthusiasts to Ras Al Khaimah and raise its profile as a leading adventure destination.
The winners of the challenge, the “Trip Adventure” team from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, were announced during a commemorative event organized in Ras Al Khaimah to coincide with the official UNWTO World Tourism Day celebrations on 27 September 2018, and was attended by high-level dignitaries, VIPs and CEOs from Ras Al Khaimah.
The top three finalists; Temple Owls from Temple University, Global Citizens from George Washington University, and Trip Adventure from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, presented their ideas in front of a panel of judges, demonstrating how the diverse landscape of the Emirate can be used to attract adventurers and tourists from around the world. The panel consisted of the senior leadership at RAKTDA, including Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, and international tourism experts from George Washington University, including Chris Seek International Institute of Tourism Studies instructor, and Dr Don Hawkins, Professor Emeritus of Management and Tourism Studies. The shortlisted ideas were assessed based on innovation, feasibility of execution, sustainability, global appeal and anticipated impact on the Emirate’s growing adventure tourism proposition.
The shortlisted teams’ recommendations included the region’s first orienteering event -which covers hiking, running and mountain biking, Ras Al Khaimah’s fist city-wide Scavenger Hunt showcasing the Emirate’s fascinating historical and cultural sites to participants seeking authentic and immersive experiences, and Ras Al Khaimah’s own adventure challenge featuring the Emirate’s various natural and cultural treasures through exciting sporting activities such as rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and much more.
The winning team’s idea from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, proposed hosting Ras Al Khaimah’s first international orienteering event featuring three different terrains; mountain, desert and sea. The three-day event would target adventure and sports enthusiasts from around the globe, inviting them to experience Ras Al Khaimah’s natural landscapes and adventure offering while enjoying authentic Arabian experiences including Bedouin Camps, traditional tribal performances, cultural and historical sites, local cuisine, camel and horseback riding. The challenge will consist of three difficulty levels targeting different audience segments from all ages and fitness levels; The Elite race designed for professional athletes, the challenge race created for orienteering fans around the globe, and finally the Recreational race targeting families of all ages. This inclusive international sports and adventure event aims to attract more than 5,000 participants from 40 countries to visit Ras Al Khaimah and experience its unique proposition.
Commenting on the announcement, Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority said: “Selecting the winning team wasn’t easy as all the shortlisted ideas demonstrated high levels of innovation and creativity and gave us a new perspective on how we can grow our reputation globally as the region’s adventure tourism hub. The purpose of this crowd-sourcing initiative was to engage millennials from around the world, who are redefining what travel and adventure means, to come up with innovative and sustainable ways to develop our outdoor adventure offer. It was a pleasure to witness the development and creation of these ideas, and we look forward to integrating the winning concept into our destination strategy to support our adventure tourism development goals and promote the destination to a global audience”.
Over the last few years, Ras Al Khaimah has significantly expanded its adventure tourism activities and was recently awarded the World Travel Award for Middle East’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination 2018. In February, RAKTDA launched the latest addition to its offering with the opening of Jebel Jais Flight: The World’s Longest Zipline. This complements the Via Ferrata, trekking and climbing route high on Jebel Jais Mountain which has earned plaudits as one of the most thrilling experiences in the UAE and was shortlisted for ‘Innovation of the Year’ at the highly acclaimed Adventure Travel Awards.
In response to growing visitor numbers, further adventure related development is planned for Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest mountain, including a 37 room Luxury Mountain Camp; a Survival Training Academy and 64.72km of Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails opening next year. Prestigious global sporting events are also increasingly being attracted to the Emirate with Ras Al Khaimah hosting the Grand Final of the Golf European Tour Challenge Tour – also known as The Road to Ras Al Khaimah – at the end of October, marking a significant milestone for golf in the Emirate.
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