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Rising Emirate

The Ras Al Khaimah government is pumping $250m into tourism projects

The $1.9bn Al Hamra Village, described as the first standalone development in Ras Al Khaimah, is all to set to expand with Phase 4.
The $1.9bn Al Hamra Village, described as the first standalone development in Ras Al Khaimah, is all to set to expand with Phase 4.
ANALYSIS, Business, Emirate, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, TDA, The Ras Al Khaimah government

The Ras Al Khaimah government is pumping $250m into tourism projects until 2013, according to the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (TDA)

The TDA recently received H.H. Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, as the authority celebrated its first year anniversary of operations since it was established in May 2011.

Some of the latest tourism projects in RAK include the 349-room and suite Waldorf Astoria, which will mark the entry of Hilton’s Worldwide luxury brand into the UAE, and the 627-room and suite Rixos Bab Al Bahr, the first ‘all-inclusive’ property of this magnitude in the UAE, scheduled to open its doors in Q1 2013 on Al Marjan Island, where the newly-built 309-key DoubleTree by Hilton Resort is scheduled to open in 2014.

Earlier this year, the new 186-key Mangrove Hotel on the Al Qassimi Corniche opened to the public.

Various upgrade projects have also been launched over the last year, including the enhancement of the Al Hamra Marina and Yacht Club, as well as the Banyan Tree Al Wadi, extending the villa complex, building a new equestrian club and expanding the selection of wildlife at the resort.

Highlighting future plans, TDA COO Victor Louis said: “While our initial implementation projects are well on the way to reaching completion, we are looking forward to embarking upon a series of new projects in the future.”

Speaking from the Ras Al Khaimah pavilion at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, Sheikh Al Qasimi said: “I would like to congratulate the TDA on its first anniversary, and the great accomplishments the authority has made in its first year in the Emirate.

Established under the vision of Sheikh Al Qasimi, TDA was established to both develop and promote the emirate’s tourism infrastructure and potential both domestically and abroad. Since the formation of the TDA in May 2011, the authority has embarked upon a rigorous development and promotional schedule to firmly position RAK regionally and internationally.

Louis commented: “During the last 12 months, TDA has been actively invol­ved in a wealth of activities to achieve our goal of 1.2 million visitors by 2013 and 10,000 hotel rooms by 2016. Due to these efforts, I am happy to reveal that our first-year report card has been extremely positive, setting us up nicely to achieve the goals and objectives set.”

Tourism figures released by TDA indicate that, in 2011, the Emirate received 835,200 visitors, compared to 600,000 in 2010, demonstrating a robust increase of 40%. Occupancy levels for the beach resorts during 2011 were a healthy 70% and 65% in the city hotels, indicating an increase of 9.35% in beach resorts and 7% in city hotels.

The Revenue per Room figures (RevPar) for 2011 also show an increase on 2010, with RAK beach resorts enjoying a healthy increase of 24.5%, while city hotels rose by a solid 10.24%. These figures translated into $108m hotel revenue, an increase of 37.61% over 2010.

Continuing its growth, RAK received largely positive results for Q1 2012, where the total number of hotel guests for January, February and March reached

306,750, compared to 208,000 for the same period in 2011, a 47% increase. Occupancies rose by 3% at beach hotels and resorts and 11.5% at city hotels.

Additionally, RevPar also improved by 31.5% for beach hotels and resorts and 50.46% for city hotels. The total hotel revenue is $37.8m, showing an increase of 40% compared to Q1 2011. The Travel and Tourism sector in RAK contributes 2% of GDP, and is set to reach 9% of GDP within the coming four to six years.

“We will continue to promote RAK as the ‘rising Emirate’ both domestically and overseas to ensure our aims and goals are met. We will also be tapping into new source markets, as well as expanding our existing markets of the UAE, the surrounding Middle East and Europe,” said Louis.

“The markets of Germany, Russia, Italy, UK and the Scandinavian countries are also important to us, and we are expanding our efforts to further develop the Emirate’s popularity as a cruise destination. We will also be looking at adding further signature sporting events to the calendar to reinforce the already-popular outdoor leisure activities which RAK can offer.”

Recently football giant Real Madrid and the RAK government announced the Real Madrid Resort Island, expected to open in January 2015. According to a statement on the Real Madrid website, it will be the “first recreational tourism complex built under the Real Madrid trademark.”

“When the Real Madrid Resort Island opens its gates, visitors will become part of the legend of this club, which strives to be eternal and universal,” said club president Florentino Perez in the statement.

The resort will cover 50ha, and is being labelled as a sports tourism complex. A key feature will be a stadium being described as the first to be “open to the sea”. A theme park, Real Madrid museum, marina and other sports facilities are to be included in the development, along with a residential area and hotels.

Dr. Khater Massaad, CEO of RAK Investment Authority, represented the RAK government at the project’s launch event, along with Louis Armand de Rouge from RAK Participations and RAK Marjan Island Football CEO.

In a report in the Financial Times, de Rouge described the project as “strategic” and “unique”. “There are already many high-profile people in the region invested in football, but not in this way,” he said.

In the 12 months since its formation, TDA has also overseen both the announcement and completion of various projects, including the opening of new tourism attractions such as the Pearl Excursion and Museum in January.

The Pearl Excursion is RAK’s newest tourist attraction. Combined with the Pearl Museum, it offers visitors a unique opportunity to discover the ancient process of cultivating natural pearls, with the added attraction of being able to take a pearl home.

“This new family attraction serves to strengthen our focus on presenting RAK as an Emirate which is proud of its history and keen to preserve its cultural heritage”.

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