RAK tourism figures soar in first half

Tourism authority says UAE remains main source but Russians are coming back

Ras Al Khaimah is on track to surpass its annual visitor target after the emirate’s hotels reported a 10 per cent year-on-year increase in international guest arrivals during the first six months of the year.

In addition to double-digit year-on-year growth in guest arrivals during H1, average hotel occupancy jumped to 72.7 per cent - an increase of 4.7 per cent on the corresponding six-month period in 2016, according to Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (Raktda)..

Robust first-half growth was posted across all key segments with total guest nights up 17.7 per cent, average length of stay increasing by 10.5 per cent to 3.9 days from 3.5 days last year, and room revenue increasing by 13.3 per cent.

The results also include a significant year-on-year boost in monthly figures for June as hotels reported a 27 per cent increase in guest arrivals.  Ramadan also saw a surge in visitor arrivals, with the emirate’s hotels reporting a 37.6 per cent year-on-year increase compared with the corresponding period last year.

With RAK targeting 900,000 visitor arrivals during 2017, the emirate has already recorded half-year guest arrivals of 390,499 between January and June – up 6.5 per cent on first-half arrivals last year.

“While our excellent H1 results highlight continued year-on-year growth in Ras Al Khaimah’s visitor numbers, it is the Ramadan and June results that are particularly promising,” said Haitham Mattar, the chief executive of Raktda, adding he expected the first-half showing to help the emirate to optimise the traditional peak season of late summer and the fourth quarter. “Our best-ever figures during these typically lower periods of occupancy are a direct result of strategic initiatives and promotional activities undertaken in domestic and international source markets – we are thrilled to see those efforts to boost summer numbers bearing immediate fruit.”

RAK’s domestic focus has paid idividends and, year-to-date, the UAE remains the most significant source market in terms of visitor numbers, accounting for over a third of total visitors between January and June.

Internationally, RAK’s four largest source markets remain Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and India. After 84 per cent year-on-year increases in guest arrivals during in the first half this year, Russia has leapfrogged the UK to rank as the emirate’s second largest international source market. The UK and India now rank third and fourth, with year-on-year gains of 21 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively, between January and June.

Emerging destinations continue to be key contributors with significant growth in H1 from Kazakhstan – up 16 per cent, Poland – up 224 per cent, and the Czech Republic – up 81 per cent. The growth in arrivals from Poland and the Czech Republic are attributed to strategic partnerships and charter agreements struck between Raktda and in-market tour operators in the central European nations.

“It is very satisfying to see such robust growth from both our established and emerging markets during H1,” added Mr Mattar. “We are optimistic of registering continued growth from all key markets for the remainder of the year and beyond.”

New attractions announced for Jebel Jais, the UAE’s tallest peak, this year include a multi-purpose observation deck and event area near the mountain’s summit that is due to come online in October. The launch of official cycling and hiking routes across the emirate - with a focus on Jebel Jais - are also in development.