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As part of its international visitation strategy and to grow its reputation as the region’s adventure hub, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority is exploring innovative ways to enhance its appeal to the growing global adventure tourism market. Earlier this year, the tourism body partnered with The George Washington University’s International Institute of Tourism Studies in Washington, DC to crowdsource innovative ideas from students worldwide on the kinds of adventure sports events that could be hosted in the Emirate. From dozens of entries, the three shortlisted finalists, who will present their proposals at an event in Ras Al Khaimah to coincide with the official UNWTO World Tourism Day celebrations on 27 September, demonstrated how the diverse landscape of the Emirate – covering mountain, desert and coast – can be used to attract adventurers and tourists.
The three shortlisted finalists from the US and Hong Kong, highlighted the growing trend towards multi-sport events and opportunities – along with RAK’s diverse landscape – in their marketing concepts for hosting challenges that are not only sustainable but that have broad international appeal. Recommendations included the region’s first orienteering event -which includes hiking, running and mountain biking – to unique sporting trials that capitalize on adventure sports available in the Emirate including kayaking, quad biking and climbing.
The winning student team will be judged and announced in a dedicated event in Ras Al Khaimah on the UNWTO World Tourism Day, and RAKTDA will use the ideas to help inform the development of the adventure tourism proposition in the Emirate.
Haitham Mattar, CEO of RAKTDA said: “As we focus on our 2019-2021 tourism strategy, which we will launch later this year, one of our main aims is to look at how we can innovate sustainably and make Ras Al Khaimah one of the world’s leading destinations for travelers seeking beaches, sun and sand, relaxation, culture and adventure. The partnership with The George Washington University was designed to crowd-source and harness the best millennial minds to help propel Ras Al Khaimah into the global adventure tourism scene. The shortlisted entries have some very interesting ideas about how we can develop our tourism offering, we look forward to selecting the winner on World Tourism Day.”
International Institute of Tourism Studies Executive Director Seleni Matus said: “Ras Al Khaimah’s spectacular natural assets are ideally suited to adventure and sustainable tourism. We launched this initiative to encourage young people to make recommendations for how the destination could realise its incredible potential for growth, particularly among adventure travellers, one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism market. Events like those proposed by our shortlisted finalists serve to both attract adventure tourists while also providing a huge opportunity for the creation of content that can be used to showcase the destination to a wider 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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