Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) announced its latest tourism figures yesterday. The data shows that trips to the Emirate by foreign travellers were up by 14% at the end of Q2 2018 compared with the same period last year.
The significant uptick in fortunes goes beyond the prediction from UNWTO that the Middle East would experience 4% tourism growth in the first half of 2018. This follows an unprecedented drive for European custom which saw RAKTDA visit more than 4,000 travel agents in 45 European cities earlier this year, as well as flourishing MICE and adventure tourism sectors.
International markets accounted for 66% of arrivals between January and June 2018, with Russian visitors, up by 50% year-on-year. Germany remained as the second biggest source market, up 4%, followed by the UK, up 13% on 2017. The Nordic region also remained strong, seeing 21.3% growth since the start of the year.
Emerging markets also performed strongly with the Czech Republic up 34%, Kazakhstan up 22.1%, and Poland up 6.3% against the same period in 2017. Growth from the Global Cooperation Council (GCC) went up by 4.6%, with travellers from Saudi Arabia now topping the arrivals list.
The MICE industry has played a strong part in this striking growth with Ras Al Khaimah gathering attention as an attractive destination, with strong meetings and events infrastructure. 2018 has already see the nation host marquee events such as the inaugural Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) — not to mention the upcoming annual conference of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO), slated for November this year.
“We are on track to exceed our projection of 1 million visitors by the end of the year”
The adventure tourism sector has also been a major contributing factor with the successful expansion of the adrenaline charged experiences such as the Jebel Jais Flight ‘The World’s Longest Zipline’ which has welcomed over 10,000 riders this year.
Indeed the ride has been so popular that not only it did appear in London, through the power of AR technology, last week, but is also expected to garner many more customers when it expands to include an additional zipline cable, adventure park, as well as a survival training academy and mountain biking trails in 2019.
Haitham Mattar, CEO of RAKTDA said: “With international arrivals to the Emirate rising by 14% in the first half of the year, we are on track to exceed our projection of 1 million visitors by the end of the year. Our focus remains on sustainable development with new products and accommodation to meet the growing demand. This will form an integral part of our Destination 2019-2021 strategy which will be released in Q4.”
“We envision a globally recognised destination attracting 3 million visitors”
Mattar went on to highlight the importance of the Jebel Jais mountain( the UAE’s highest peak and home of the world’s longest zipline): “Jebel Jais remains core to our proposition as we look to capitalise on the global adventure tourism industry and secure further interest from investors in this growing segment.
“With the right investment and the use of best practice to develop sustainable tourism, we envision a globally recognised destination attracting 3 million visitors and contributing 3.5 billion AED to the Emirate’s GDP by 2025.” Mattar added.