Ras Al Khaimah, the northernmost emirate of the UAE, is reaping the rewards of its commitment to sustainable tourism, attracting a significant influx of visitors and marking a milestone year in 2023. The emirate recorded an impressive 1.22 million tourist arrivals last year, an 8% increase from the previous year. Notably, international visitors surged by 24%, highlighting the global appeal of Ras Al Khaimah's offerings. This growth in tourism has led to a rise in hotel occupancy rates, further solidifying its status as a premier travel destination.

Ras Al Khaimah's tourism achievements have not gone unnoticed. CNN Travel named the region one of the best destinations to visit in 2023, while Conde Nast Traveller included it in their list of the best places to go in Asia for 2024. These accolades reflect the emirate’s rising prominence on the global tourism stage.

The credit for this phenomenal growth largely goes to the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), which has implemented comprehensive growth plans that capitalise on the region’s robust tourism environment. Meanwhile, it is pertinent to mention that 12% of the country’s GDP comes from tourism only, with 750,000 people related to tourism for livelihood. And that shows how important tourism is to the place.

One of the strategic initiatives taken in this regard include the Vision 2025 Tourism Strategy, which aims to attract 3 million visitors annually by 2025. To fulfill this, significant investments have been witnessed in infrastructure development in transportation, including the expansion of the Ras Al Khaimah International Airport and improved road connectivity. Pertinent to mention that Ras Al Khaimah is also set to enhance tourism through electric air mobility- RAKTDA has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Skyports Infrastructure to develop a network of vertiports for electric air taxi services, aiming to connect key attractions across the emirate sustainably.

Adding to it, the ambitious vision 2025 plan includes expanding the hotel capacity, enhancing the visitor experience, and diversifying the tourism offerings - including the introduction of luxury resorts, eco-friendly accommodations, and world-class amenities which are further elevating the tourism experience. In a recent interview with AFAR, Raki Phillips, CEO of RAKTDA said that Ras Al Khaimah boasts an impressive portfolio of 50 properties, providing over 8,000 rooms for guests. Moreover, he said that the emirate is set to expand further with more than 7,000 additional hotel rooms currently under development.

Furthermore, there are many standout initiatives designed to give a further boost to the RAK’s tourism sector. Like, the recent ‘See Double’ campaign, a joint promotion with the Oman Ministry of Heritage and Tourism and the OMRAN Group, matured to encourage visitors to explore both Ras Al Khaimah and the Musandam governorate of Oman in one trip, offering an adventure-filled, memorable experience.

Similarly, the place has started hosting International activities, road shows, trade fairs, media events, and other functions. Some of the well known activities they hosted include the 2023 WMF Minifootball Worldcup, RAK Half Marathon, Arab Aviation Summit, Exotic Wedding planning conference, etc.

RAK’s appeal grows beyond leisure tourism. It has become a much sought-after wedding destination as well. For instance, in one of the recent reports by The Siasat Daily, the RAK is seen as a new and exciting place by Indian couples to get married at. This has led Indigo Airlines to launch a daily flight to RAK International Airport, adding to the existing daily service from Mumbai. As a result, RAK receives 14 flights weekly from India as per the report with Indian arrivals contributing to 10% of the total visitor arrivals there.

On top of all these achievements, RAKTDA’s efforts received a tremendous boost when it was successful in securing a $3.6 billion deal with Wynn Resorts, which was the largest of its kind Foreign Direct Investment in the region, marking a significant development in their journey towards sustainable tourism development and economic diversification in the emirate.

Overall, with ongoing investments in infrastructure, sustainable and diverse tourism offerings, strategic promotional efforts, and global investments, the future of Ras Al Khaimah’s tourism industry looks promising, attracting a significant share of the global tourism market. For investors, this provides a unique opportunity to be part of a growing industry with substantial potential for returns.

To explore the market further, the investors are presented with an opportunity at Ras Al Khaimah Investment and Trade Summit 2024, which is a preeminent international platform for strategic investment and development. The Summit will convene visionaries, industry leaders, companies, policymakers, and the Government of Ras Al Khaimah to explore the region's attractive investment opportunities across diverse areas, including tourism, and position the Emirate as a regional hub for investment and business excellence.