Ras Al Khaimah is planning fam trips and other trade events to help UK agents sell more holidays to the emirate as it aims to boost British visitor numbers.
The destination – part of the United Arab Emirates – has seen 7.7% of its international visitors this year come from the UK. It forecasts that the UK share will reach 8% by the end of the year, which also translates to a 5% year-on-year growth.
Raki Phillips, chief executive of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, said: “With the help of our UK trade partners, we endeavour to welcome more UK tourists to Ras Al Khaimah.
“Maintaining our collaborations with trade partners is key to the promotion of the destination in the UK and Irish markets.”
He said the tourist board takes part in “dozens” of trade shows each year to raise awareness about the destination, updating agents about activities and developments.
“We will also continue to host fam trips for trade partners to experience the destination first-hand,” he added.
“Our team will also continue to organise regular sales missions, seminars and training.”
This summer also saw the first ‘RAK5ives’ – a five-a-side football tournament for the UK travel trade – as part of efforts to promote Ras Al Khaimah’s reputation as a leading sports destination.
Phillips said the emirate is seeing a “strong and fast recovery”, with record visitor numbers from January to October – up by 10.5% on the same period in 2022.
There were 1.13 million visitors in 2022, a 40% increase from 2021 and the highest number ever recorded.
The emirate aims to attract three million tourists annually by 2030 while also becoming a “regional leader” in sustainable travel by 2025.
Ras Al Khaimah has become first destination in the Middle East to be awarded the EarthCheck Sustainable Destinations Silver Certification.
The certification process involved monitoring, benchmarking and auditing across 10 sustainability indicators, from energy and water consumption to waste management, carbon footprint analysis and community engagement.
“Our continued commitment to sustainability is increasingly attracting eco-conscious travellers from the UK and other markets owing to our diverse range of tourism offerings,” added Phillips.
“Together with our existing and upcoming family friendly attractions and new hotel developments, Ras Al Khaimah offers something for every type of UK traveller.
“We have also partnered with Qatar Airways who resumed flight operations to Ras Al Khaimah starting November 1, opening one of the largest global airline networks to the emirate.”
Another move to attract more UK visitors was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the tourism development company in neighbouring Oman.
Marketing initiatives will position Ras Al Khaimah and the Omani Musandam governorate as “leaders within the global adventure tourism market”.
Furthermore, as part of its sustainability drive, theRas Al Khaimah tourism board is boosting accessible tourism.
It has partnered with Sage Inclusion, an accessible travel consultancy and specialist, with the aim of becoming the Middle East’s leading accessible tourism destination.
Sage Inclusion will assess Ras Al Khaimah’s accessibility credentials and provide accessibility marketing and training services.
Another sector on the destination’s agenda is the wedding market, with new laws governing civil marriages paving the way for a streamlined wedding planner certification programme and an e-learning platform.
The next few years will also see the arrival of international hotel brands such as Nobu Hotels, W, Le Meridien, JW, Nikki Beach and Earth Hotels.
“Together these developments will boost the destination’s hospitality offering and fuel ambitious growth plans of doubling Ras Al Khaimah’s guest room capacity in the coming years,” said Phillips.
Wynn Al Marjan Island, a multibillion-dollar integrated hospitality project, will open in 2027 and Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah Resort is scheduled to open by the end of 2023.