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Category Public Relations
Date 04 Feb 2018
Focus on emerging markets provides additional boost to visitor numbers
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 its consolidated results for the 12 months ending December 31st, 2017. The organisation reported a growth of 19% in the overall number of guests, with a substantial increase from emerging markets.
The UAE remains the most significant source market for tourism, accounting for almost half the visitors to Ras Al Khaimah in 2017, however growth from international markets was also prevalent. Germany, Russia, United Kingdom and India respectively were Ras Al Khaimah’s largest source markets with the number of visitors from Russia increasing 79% versus 2016. The UK also saw solid visitor growth of 16.8% in 2017, largely due to the increase in UK tour operators bringing British holidaymakers to the Emirate.
2017 was also the year of emerging market growth particularly amongst visitors from Eastern European countries. Inbound tourism from Poland was up 160% versus 2016 and the number of visitors from the Czech Republic also increased by 51%. The strong performance came on the back of ongoing strategic partnerships and agreements that took place between RAKTDA and in-market tour operators and an upweight in marketing activities to showcase the breadth of offer in the destination for key tourism segments.
Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority said: “With tourism arrivals to the Emirate rising 19% year-on-year, we are optimistic about reaching our goal of a million visitors by the end of 2018 and 2.9 million by the end of 2025. The particular focus we have placed on working with partners in emerging markets has been a great success and providing significant growth benefits.”
Hotel occupancies also performed well in 2017, with the average occupancy throughout the year at 73.6% – a growth of 3.5% versus 2016. Average length of stay also grew by 2.7% to 3.41 days showing the increasing appeal of the destination beyond the weekend break or staycation.
The increased demand highlights the need for more hotel rooms and RAKTDA has plans to grow its current resort portfolio from just over 5400 rooms to more than 10,000 by the end of 2020. Diversification of the accommodation options is equally important and RAKTDA recently signed an MoU with Airbnb to regulate and increase the inventory of holiday homes ensuring high quality stays are available for tourists.
Mattar added: “As we draw ever closer to reaching our visitor targets, the need for more quality hotel accommodation has never been so important. We are working closely with travel and tourism stakeholders to attract the right brands and accommodation options to support sustainable growth across the Emirate.”
“We have identified three key tourist segments beyond the traditional sun & sand holidaymakers, namely active adventurers, cultural explorers and luxury indulgence and wellness seekers and as we look forward to 2018 and beyond its important we have the hotel offer and tourism product to continue the appeal of our destination to these audiences.”
One of the RAKTDA key growth areas in 2017 was the development of its adventure tourism product in and around Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest mountain. The Jebel Jais Via Ferrata gained top Trip Advisor ranking among the Emirate’s attractions, welcoming thousands of active adventurers in its first six months of operations. Earning plaudits as one of the most thrilling experiences in the UAE, the trekking and climbing routes high on the mountain were also shortlisted for ‘Innovation of the Year’ at the highly acclaimed Adventure Travel Awards.
2017 also saw the development of Jebel Jais Flight: The World’s Longest Zipline which opened to the public last week and is set to propel the UAE’s most northern Emirate into the major league of global adventure tourism across the globe as well as cement Jebel Jais as the region’s capital of outdoor adventure sports. The new viewing deck park will also shortly be completed close to the summit of Jebel Jais and plans are in place for 2018 for a luxury mountain camp as well as official cycling and hiking routes.
RAKTDA also focused on strengthening its MICE offer in 2017 hosting a number of major tourism events including the 67th Annual Convention of the German Travel Association (DRV) in December 2017. AHIC, the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, will also be hosted in Ras Al Khaimah for the first time in April 2018. Other events were also delivered to help drive visitor numbers to the Emirate including the World’s biggest firework display on Al Marjan Island for New Year’s Eve.
Mattar concluded: “I’m very proud of what we achieved in 2017 and now we look forward to 2018 and reaching our visitor target at the end of this year. With the introduction of new, bucket list, adventure tourism product like the World’s Longest Zipline and the spectacular Viewing Deck Park at Jebel Jais we are upping the ante as the region’s fastest growing tourism destination. We are optimistic about the future and will continue to focus our efforts on growing the number of international and regional visitors looking for an authentic and accessible Arabian experience.”
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