Raki Phillips is on hand to discuss:
- Tourism strategies for the new normal
- Changing public priorities in global leisure travel
- Future-proofing destinations against epidemiological threat
- How Ras Al Khaimah is the first city in the world to receive the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Safe Travels certificate
- Is the first destination to offer free PCR tests to inbound travellers
- The multi-million-pound investment into sustainable tourism developments
- SelectRAK – A dynamic collaboration between RAKTDA and Arton Capital to
- encourage investment in the Emirate, with far-reaching incentives and measurable boosts for core economic sectors
- The Emirate’s partnership with EarthCheck to co-create genuine sustainable practices
- The destination’s objective to attract over 3 million visitors (per year) by 2030
- In July 2021 the Emirate set a new record for visitor numbers
- The UAE joining the UK’s amber list on Sunday August 8th
Ras Al Khaimah is bucking post-pandemic tourism trends with exceptional growth and a £96-million investment in its industry. According to Raki Phillips, CEO of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), the 25% drop in the Emirate’s tourism figures were around three times less severe than the global average at the peak of the pandemic, and in July 2021 Ras Al Khaimah set a new record for visitor numbers. The destination is now embarking on a major journey to further develop its tourism offering by investing millions in sustainable tourism projects.
The destination is now embarking on a major journey of development of its tourism offering, with a multi-million-pound investment into sustainable tourism projects.
Phillips, who became CEO of RAKTDA in June 2019 after a career working for Ritz-Carlton Hotels, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Universal Studios Orlando, says the destination is well placed to attract travellers in the wake of the pandemic:
“News that Ras Al Khaimah will move to the UK’s amber list on Sunday August 8 is extremely welcome. Speaking to travellers from our key markets, we have gleaned insights into travel preferences in the new normal. Our guests can enjoy space, fresh air and the confidence that they are safe, as they take full advantage of Ras Al Khaimah’s many great outdoor attractions from beaches to mountains; culture to adventure and much more.”
According to Bloomberg, the UAE has taken the lead in becoming the world’s most vaccinated nation, with 15.5 million doses, enough to cover 72.1% of the population.
The Financial Times Report also states that the UAE has given the highest doses of the vaccine, when compared globally.
In 2020, Ras Al Khaimah was the first city worldwide to receive the ‘Safeguard Assurance’ label from Bureau Veritas, as well as the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Safe Travels stamp. It was also the first destination to offer free return PCR tests to inbound travellers which continues to this day, making it a leader in tourism in the post-pandemic world.
Phillips has lofty goals for tourism in Ras Al Khaimah, the UAE’s northernmost Emirate and the current Gulf Tourism Capital for 2021, as he intends to bring in over 3 million visitors (per year) by 2030.
A huge part of this effort is the £96-million investment into sustainable tourism projects within the Emirate, including brand new accommodation and glamping developments in the mountains, an eco-golf course and a scallop farm.
In partnership with Arton Capital, a leading government advisory company, RAKTDA launched ‘SelectRAK’ – an attractive, seamless ‘one stop shop’ foreign investment programme appealing to a variety of investors from real estate to entrepreneurs and retirees.
Its aim is to accelerate affordable luxury as a key benefit, bolster the local economy and attract international talent and experience in the sector. The initiative will help build all core economic sectors, including healthcare, hospitality, education, trade, and retail, in turn, creating new jobs and supporting domestic enterprises.
Ras Al Khaimah has also been working with EarthCheck, the global environmental experts, to create destination wide sustainable practices, including carbon off-set, a decrease in energy and water consumption across all hotels and attractions, and tourist site clean-ups as well as cultural preservation, community outreach and scholarship programs for local colleges and universities.
The Emirate’s goal of welcoming 3 million visitors a year by 2030 is clearly evident, not just by recent airline partnerships welcoming charter and commercial flights from Russia, Eastern Europe and Asia directly into Ras Al Khaimah, but also with plans to increase hotel room inventory by 70% over the next few years, with global brands including Movenpick, InterContinental, Anantara, Radisson and more. Two billion people live within a four-hour flight of the UAE and Ras Al Khaimah: proximity, airlift and connectivity as well as the uniqueness of the destination will continue to position the Emirate as a preferred tourism destination.
00:00 Visual of Flamingoes flying over
00:09 Visual of traditional Dhow boat on the water
00:26 Visual Man hiking through mountain area
Interview with Raki Phillips, CEO, RAK TDA (Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority)
00:28 “The impact of COVID on tourism globally has had a mass effect. It's the worst hit industry around the world. The impact of it in Ras Al Khaimah, we've seen declines of about 25% year-over-year. Now, when you compare that to global declines, they went down about 75%. So, for us, we're performing in Ras Al Khaimah much better than other destinations.”
00:49 “Ras Al Khaimah was the first destination globally to receive a safety and security certification that's globally recognized. One was the World Travel Tourism Safe Travels Stamp and the Bureau Veritas recognition as well.”
01:02 “Not only was the destination certified, but also all of our 50 hotels that we have in Ras Al Khaimah, our attractions, our convention center, all of them went through a very strict protocol to ensure that we could open up safely.”
01:16 “In Ras Al Khaimah, we were the first destination to introduce PCR testing fully covered by us as the tourism authority. And the reason for that is something that's been ongoing for almost a year now to ensure the safety and security of all of our guests and our colleagues.”
01:33 “Ras Al Khaimah and the United Arab Emirates in general has been open for business. We actually never shut down. We’ve been able to open up safely, been able to welcome guests securely and have never really gone done the measure of closing the destination. There is no quarantine restrictions here, so anyone can come in. It really depends on the destination that they're coming from. Some require PCR testing, which if they fly through Ras Al Khaimah International Airport, we would cover that cost. But they can freely enjoy the destination.”
02:05 “When you look at the UAE, almost 12% of the country's GDP comes from tourism. And we're an oil rich country so that is quite a significant amount. It also employs 750,000 people in the sector.”
02:19 By 2030 we will be welcoming 3million tourists a year to Ras Al Khaimah”
02:25 “We recently announced our tourism investment of half a billion dirhams, which is about a hundred million pounds, across 20 projects in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. Those projects are going to be spread through different areas of the destination from Jebel Jais, the highest mountain, to Marjan island, to Manar Mall, to things that we're doing in Wadi Shawka as well. All of those are going to be attractions that are focused on sustainability, but also what the demands of the new modern-day travelers require.”
02:54 “EarthCheck in Ras Al Khaimah have gone into an agreement because looking at us as a destination that is focused on nature, we wanted to work with a partner that is leading in sustainability. Being sustainable isn't something new. It's been around for over two decades. And it's so important for us that it has to be part of the ethos of the culture and what we do here as a destination.”
03:19 “There’s no doubt how COVID-19 has impacted us not just in the tourism industry but globally all over the world. But if you look at history, there is no more resilient industry than the tour and travel industry. We’ve come back faster than any other industry and I strongly believe that we are resilient, and we are strong. People need to travel to connect, to build memories, to be able to experience other cultures and walk away richer than how they started.
Interview with Iyad Rasbey, Executive Director, Destination Tourism Development & MICE, RAK TDA (Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority)
03:47 “RAK TDA has been very active during the pandemic.”
03:52 “We were the first in the region to introduce a financial stimulus package to support our hotels.”
03:59 “The first thing we have done is we were active in markets that were open, knowing that UK, Germany and West Europe are one of our main source markets, we had to go after source markets that were open to travel to the UAE and re-engage with the other markets that were considered previously as secondary and emerging.”
04:22 “Connectivity is very important for any destination. With the limited number of flights we had flying into the UAE, we had to go aggressively behind airlines flying directly to Ras Al Khaimah with the partnership with have with RAK Airport.”
04:39 “We keep on interacting with tourists. We want to know how do they see Ras Al Khaimah and we are always told by them that they feel safe, they feel they've been looked after in Ras Al Khaimah.”
Interview with Alison Grinnell, CEO - RAK Hospitality Holding
04:52 “In the last six months, we have seen a much more positive impact and pick up on our international arrivals from a number of our key markets. And in some instances, some of our hotels are back to their pre-COVID 2019 levels.”
05:04 “I think the benefit of that and the real key to that for Ras Al Khaimah is we're seen as a safe Emirate and a lot of the safe standards and practices that are in place, makes people feel comfortable at traveling back here.”
05:15 Visual of UAE Flag flying over Ras Al Khaimah
05:20 Visual of hotel resort on the beach
05:27 Visual of Marina with yachts and hotel in the background
05:31 Visual of the beach
05:37 Visual of family enjoying the beach
05:41 Visuals of Jais Adventure Center
05:52 Visual of Ziplining across Jebel Jais
05:57 Visual of Waldorf Astoria hotel and beach front
06:11 Visual of Safety Officer on the beach
06:22 Visual of Jet-Ski on the water
06:33 Visual of 4x4 Dune Bashing activity
06:42 Visual of Dhayah Fort