H.H. Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi Visits the Arabian Travel Market
in Acknowledgement of Tourism Development in the UAE
featuring Ras Al Khaimah
-Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority Celebrates its first anniversary since Establishment and on Track for 1.2 Million Visitors by 2013-
(Ras Al Khaimah, UAE - May 1, 2012) The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (Ras Al Khaimah TDA) was honoured today to receive His Highness 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 as well as celebrates the remarkable results achieved in last 12 months.
Speaking from the Ras Al Khaimah pavilion at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah said: “Being my first year to visit the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, I would like first of all to acknowledge the great achievements, which His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai has made in developing the iconic emirate of Dubai, forming it to a unique global milestone with its various highlights, from Emirates Airlines to the world’s tallest building “Burj Khalifa. I would also like to congratulate the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority on its first anniversary of operation and the great accomplishments the authority has made in its first year in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah”.
Established under the vision of His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, Ras Al Khaimah TDA was established to both develop and promote the emirate’s tourism infrastructure and potential both domestically and abroad.
As a destination with a diverse mix of landscapes, natural beauty and outdoor activities, Ras Al Khaimah complement the different emirates, whereby a visit to Ras Al Khaimah combined with Dubai, or any other emirate, provides a fuller experience of the United Arab Emirates as a whole to its visitors.
Since the formation of Ras Al Khaimah TDA in May 2011, the authority has embarked upon a rigorous development and promotional schedule of programmes to firmly position Ras Al Khaimah regionally and overseas as an affordable luxury destination, offering adventure, relaxation and a diverse mix of attractions. Speaking about the last 12-months, Victor Louis, Chief Operating Officer for Ras Al Khaimah TDA said: “During the last 12-months Ras Al Khaimah 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 Ras Al Khaimah TDA indicate that in 2011 Ras Al Khaimah 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 the city hotels. The Revenue per Room figures (Rev Par) for 2011 also show an increase on 2010 with Ras Al Khaimah beach resorts enjoying a healthy increase of 24.5% while the city hotels rose by a solid 10.24%. These figures were translated into AED 400 million (US$ 108 million) hotel revenue stating an increase of 37.61% compared to the year 2010.
Continuing its growth, Ras Al Khaimah received extremely positive results for the first quarter of 2012, where the total number of hotel guests for January, February and March 2012 reached 306,750 compared to a total of approximately 208,000 for the same period in 2011, resulting in a 47% increase. Over the first quarter of 2012 occupancies have risen by a total of 3% at beach hotels and resorts, and 11.5% at city hotels. Additionally Revenue per Available Room (RevPar) also improved by 31.5% for beach hotels and resorts and 50.46% for city hotels. The total hotel revenue is almost AED 139 million (US$ 37.8 million) showing an increase of 40% compared to first quarter of the year 2011.
The Travel and Tourism sector in Ras Al Khaimah contributes with 2% of GDP and our target is to reach 9% of GDP within the coming 4 to 6 years.
Over the last 12 months many new hospitality projects and hotels have also been initiated and secured, as a result of the continuous investment of U$ 250 million of the Ras Al Khaimah government in tourism projects until 2013.
These 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 & Suite Rixos Bab Al Bahr, which is the first ‘all inclusive’ property of this magnitude in the UAE, scheduled to open its doors first quarter of 2013 on Al Marjan Island, where the newly built 309- key DoubleTree by Hilton Resort, Marjan Island scheduled to open in 2014.
Earlier this year, the new Mangrove Hotel located on the Al Qassimi Corniche, with its 186 rooms and suites opened to the public, and a new gourmet experience for the rising emirate has been created with the authentic Italian restaurant “Pesto”, presenting a new concept for food and beverage stand-alone restaurants in the emirate. “Café Gourmet” is the newest addition to Ras Al Khaimah dining scenery presenting a new “Café “concept in the emirate with plans to expand in the emirate by the end of 2012. Both hospitality brands are managed by the Ras Al Khaimah Hospitality Group, established in November 2011 to act as Management Company on behalf of the government owned hotels, hospitality, tourism and leisure assets.
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. Says Victor Louis: “Since the resort’s opening in 2010 its popularity among visiting guests has gone from strength to strength receiving many accolades and awards.” The Banyan Tree Al Wadi has in fact received 10 different accolades including ‘Winner of Middle East’s Leading Villa Resort 2011’ from World Travel Awards and ‘Top 10 New Hotels 2010’ from Hotelier Middle East.”
In its efforts to generate greater awareness of the destination and increase travel demand for the emirate, Ras Al Khaimah TDA has also participated in an extensive calendar of major international travel exhibitions, roadshows and target travel segment seminars and events. Additionally a proactive and successful programme of charter flights from Europe was also established, which at the end of its first season in June 2012 is expected to have brought an additional 60,000 visitors to the rising emirate. Says Victor Louis: “The overwhelming success of the charter flights will see the programmes both continued and further extended in the future.”
Speaking about future plans for Ras Al Khaimah TDA, 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. We will continue to promote Ras Al Khaimah 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, surrounding Middle East and Europe. The MICE 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 Ras Al Khaimah can offer”.
In the 12 months since its formation, Ras Al Khaimah 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 2012. The Pearl Excursion is Ras Al Khaimah’s newest tourist attraction and combined with the Pearl Museum 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. Commenting on the Pearl Excursion, Victor Louis said: “This new family attraction serves to strengthen our focus on presenting Ras Al Khaimah as an emirate which is proud of its history and keen to preserve its cultural heritage”.