RAK looks to diversify its tourist industry

Call to focus more on young crowd for image overhaul.

The Rixos resort in Ras Al Khaimah can accommodate up to 600 children at a time. Sarah Dea / The National
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RAS AL KHAIMAH // Greater effort must be made to attract a more diverse range of tourists to the emirate, experts say.

Travel agents and resorts want to attract more young adults, with recently announced plans to turn Marjan Island into a party destination like Ibiza or Miami.

Khalid Motik, founder of travel agency Ehjeez Middle East, said: “There needs to be more focus on high schools and universities to target that 18 to 25 segment.

“We need more events to attract that younger clientele and people such as couples, students, groups of friends. We need things like beach parties, which will just hit a different market and show RAK isn’t just for families.”

Mr Motik has had enquiries from groups of young travellers and said it is an as-yet-uncaptured market.

“The perceptions of RAK needs to change,” he said.

The child-friendly Rixos resort on Marjan Island is embracing adult clientele with the opening in the coming weeks of an adults-only infinity pool and adults-only restaurants. The resort can accommodate up to 600 children at a time.

General manager Haytham Omar said: “We felt the resort was really more for families, which is great and a market we wanted to attract. But if we can create a facility to attract couples and adults, we thought it was worth the investment.”

About 90 per cent of clients at the hotel are families and Mr Omar would like to change that balance to 60/40. “As hotel we realised we are missing an opportunity we can tap into,” he said.

Elsewhere on the Marjan Island property developers are in talks with music companies and promoters to stage shows that will turn the area into an entertainment hub.

Attracting events to Al Marjan Island, a cluster of four islands extending 4.5 kilometres into the Arabian Gulf, is part of long-term plans that will take between three and five years to materialise.

Kulwant Singh, managing director of Lama Tours and Holidays, said: “RAK is widening its reach and this will help to target other markets interested in beach parties, like the UK.”

The company handles about 10,000 tourists a year headed for the emirate.

“We have mainly day visitors for RAK but if they are able to start new attractions, the day visitors will increase They will stay overnight for a day or two, if we were to do a Dubai-RAK combination,” said Mr Singh.