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Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), the government body that develops the Emirate’s tourism infrastructure and initiates its domestic and overseas promotions, today announced that it will develop a comprehensive sustainable tourism master plan, based on a detailed UNWTO assessment of current performance and future opportunity.
The announcement follows RAKTDA’s official sponsorship of the UNWTO International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development in 2017 with the aim of promoting a more sustainable global tourism landscape.
Sustainable tourism growth has been a part of Ras Al Khaimah’s destination strategy since 2016 with the vision to be a sustainable and competitive tourism destination and leading contributor to the Ras Al Khaimah economy. The new report will help RAKTDA take the next step by further integrating sustainability into its Destination 2021 strategy to guide the development of tourism over the next 12 years until 2030.
One of the major projects that will form part of the development roadmap will be a sustainable luxury camp on Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest mountain. The luxury camp will offer spectacular mountain views and feature the latest technology to minimize energy use and conserve water. A dedicated programme will also be used to minimize waste to protect the mountain range 2,000 metres above sea-level. RAKTDA are currently in final negotiations with hotel operators and further announcements will follow.
The news was shared at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) and set out the key areas RAKTDA will focus on in its destination strategy update which will be released in Q4 2018. The main pillars are:
Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority said: “Ras Al Khaimah is one of the region’s fastest growing tourism destination and whilst we embrace this growth it’s fundamentally important that we retain a position of destination sustainability. We have made some great strides as part of our Destination 2019 strategy but as we plan for the future we want to take the next step and guide the development of tourism in the run up to 2030. The UNWTO is helping us shape our sustainable master plan which will focus on environmental, socio-cultural and economic aspects to position Ras Al Khaimah as the first sustainable tourism destination in the UAE. A destination that will be enjoyed by everyone for many years to come.”
As well as following the UAE Federal Sustainable Development Goals as part of Vision 2021, Ras Al Khaimah has put in place a number of initiatives, including a waste management programme to reduce landfill waste by 75% by 2021 and set up a Renewable Energy Office in the Emirate in late 2017. The waste management programme has been a success story with 500 tonnes of recyclables (paper, cardboard, plastics) diverted from landfill to the recycling industry within a year of launch. Haitham Mattar, CEO of RAKTDA is also a member of a UNWTO steering committee which is responsible for sharing best practices and driving a sustainable approach to development among global tourism peers.
RAKTDA has also focused on transforming its natural gifts into tourism assets to benefit all. Over the last few years, RAKTDA launched three new eco-friendly adventure based projects on the UAE’s highest mountain Jebel Jais – positioning it as the nature adventure hub of the Middle East, and complementing the offering of the neighbouring Emirates. These include the Arabian Gulf’s first commercial Via Ferrata (iron path) which features hiking and zip-line challenges, the viewing deck park and Jebel Jais Flight: the world’s longest zip-line which launched in February 2018. Through careful planning and consultation, these products have been realized to enhance natural assets, conscious of their environmental impact.
Similar projects are being planned across the emirate’s pristine coastline, natural mangroves and throughout historical sites including the pearl farming village Jazirat Al Hamra and the recently restored Mohammad Bin Salem Mosque. A luxury camp project in Jebel Jais is also in development and RAKTDA is in talks with hotel operators and investors for this unique, eco-tourism project which complements the array of adventure tourism attractions on offer in the Emirate.
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