The growth and growth of RAK

By | Category: Travel destinations

A decade ago, few people had heard of Ras Al Khaimah. Those that had, blithely dismissed it as unworthy of visiting. Some comments, I remember, were even more derogatory.

Ras-al-Khaimah fort
one of many forts in Ras-al-Khaimah

Today, RAQ as it is colloquially called has surprised the tourism world by not only creating a tourist offering that appeals to families, heat worshippers and adventurists but it is also attracting those up-market visitors that might have visited Dubai for a few days.  You’ll find it advertised in travel shop front windows, on online travel agencies and tour operators have created any number of packages to the Middle Eastern state.

From a complete start until now, the tourist authority has laboured to put the place on the map. And hasn’t it succeeded!

Three years ago when I met Haitham Mattar, the chief executive of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority on one of his first visits to London I was sceptical of his plan to attract one million visitors a year in 2018. He and the authority made it. Last year, 1,072,066 visitors from domestic and key international markets choose to stay in Ras Al Khaimah. That was a 10% growth over the previous year and the UK provided 63,054 of those visitors.

As might be expected, 38% of all visitors to RAK are from other UAE states but given that they are competing with Dubai to attract visitors this is quite an achievement. As Abu Dhabi, Oman, Sharjah and now Bahrain have stepped up their tourist promotions, RAK is I n a very competitive market.

Germany continues to be the leading international source market with 83,605 visitors, followed by Russia, with 83,531 visitors and then the UK. India was fourth with 62,325 visitors, up 22% and then in fifth place is a country  that you might not consider – Kazakhstan with 27,168 visitors.

The introduction of the zipline – Jebel Jais Flight – saw 25,000 visitors in its first year and helped make RAK the fastest growing tourism destination in the region. Whose betti ng that it won’t reach two million in just another few years?

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