With the United Arab Emirates moving to the UK's Amber list from Sunday August 8, British travellers will finally be able to return to one of their favourite holiday destinations. The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has been working hard to ensure it is fully prepared to meet the emerging challenges and demands of the new normal.
The city is the first in the world to receive the 'Safeguard Assurance' label from Bureau Veritas; the first to gain the World Travel and Tourism Council's Safe Travels stamp; the first to offer free return PCR tests to inbound travellers which continues to this day and is a regional leader in adventure and outdoor activities, along with sustainable tourism initiatives.
"The UK is one of our top source markets, so we are delighted that the UAE is now on its Amber list," said Raki Phillips, CEO of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA). "Speaking to travellers from our key markets, we have gleaned insights into travel preferences in the new normal. Our guests want space, fresh air and the confidence that they are safe, as they take full advantage of Ras Al Khaimah's many great outdoor attractions from beaches to mountains; culture to adventure and much more."
Ras Al Khaimah is bucking post-pandemic tourism trends with exceptional growth and a £96-million investment in its industry. According to Phillips, the 25% drop in the Emirate's tourism figures were around three times less severe than the global average at the peak of the pandemic and in July 2021 Ras Al Khaimah set a new record for visitor numbers. The destination is now embarking on a major journey to further develop its tourism offering by investing millions in sustainable tourism projects.
These include expanding the nature and adventure sports portfolios; building environmentally-friendly mountain accommodation; the construction of an eco-golf course and a scallop farm at which guests will be encouraged to dive for their dinner.
The Emirate is offering UK families the chance to visit this summer with a special 'WANASA' summer campaign running until September. This includes discounts at 3*, 4* and 5* hotels for a stay of 3+ nights, with children under 12 going free.
Phillips has lofty goals for tourism in Ras Al Khaimah, the current Gulf Tourism Capital for 2021, as he intends to bring in over 3 million visitors a year by 2030.
In partnership with Arton Capital, a leading government advisory company, RAKTDA launched 'SelectRAK' – an attractive, seamless 'one stop shop' foreign investment programme appealing to a variety of investors from real estate to entrepreneurs and retirees.
Its aim is to accelerate affordable luxury as a key benefit, bolster the local economy and attract international talent and experience in the sector. The initiative will help build all core economic sectors, including healthcare, hospitality, education, trade, and retail, in turn, creating new jobs and supporting domestic enterprises.
Ras Al Khaimah has also been working with EarthCheck, the global environmental experts, to create destination wide sustainable practices, including carbon off-set, a decrease in energy and water consumption across all hotels and attractions, and tourist site clean-ups as well as cultural preservation, community outreach and scholarship programs for local colleges and universities.
The Emirate's goal of welcoming 3 million visitors a year by 2030 is clearly evident, not just by recent airline partnerships welcoming charter and commercial flights from Russia, Eastern Europe and Asia directly into Ras Al Khaimah, but also with plans to increase hotel room inventory by 70% over the next few years, with global brands including Movenpick, InterContinental, Anantara, Radisson and more. Two billion people live within a four-hour flight of the UAE and Ras Al Khaimah: proximity, airlift and connectivity as well as the uniqueness of the destination will continue to position the Emirate as a preferred tourism destination.