Power Letters 2023: Raki Phillips, chief executive officer, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority Power Letters 2023: Raki Phillips, chief executive officer, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority
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Power Letters 2023: Raki Phillips, chief executive officer, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority

Power Letters 2023: Raki Phillips, chief executive officer, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority

Balanced Tourism is something we are firmly embracing as an emirate

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The year 2022 has been one of robust growth for Ras Al Khaimah against a backdrop of ongoing global uncertainty. Due to our ability to pivot and respond quickly to both the pandemic and ongoing challenges such as global inflation, soaring fuel costs and geopolitical uncertainty, we have raised the overall competitiveness of Ras Al Khaimah’s tourism industry.

Our highest visitor numbers since the onset of Covid-19 were achieved – representing a 14.5 per cent growth last October versus year-to-date October 2021. This put us firmly on track to reach our targeted 1.11 million arrivals by the end of the last year.

We have opened the first Mövenpick and InterContinental properties in the emirate as well as announced the biggest foreign direct tourism investment project with a partnership between Wynn Resorts, Marjan and RAK Hospitality Holding to open an integrated resort development on Al Marjan Island.

We have expanded our connectivity with the addition of several new direct flight routes from Europe and India as well as the development of our cruise tourism. We have also played host to a series of sports events and MICE.

Our ability to develop the tourism and hospitality sector is aligned with the UAE Tourism Strategy 2031 to bolster new investment in the sector and attract 40 million hotel guests across the UAE. Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, we anticipate over 5,600 keys by 2026.

To achieve this growth, we are putting sustainability at the heart of our development and investment strategies. Increasingly, consumers are seeking out green businesses, with 81 per cent of global travellers stating that sustainable travel is important to them – a 10 per cent increase over 2021, according to Booking.com.

It is also the right thing to do and the right time to do it as the industry seizes opportunities presented by the pandemic to completely revolutionise and rethink its ways.

Balanced Tourism is something we are firmly embracing as an emirate. Our goal is to nurture a tourism industry that is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable, as well as supports quality of life, while conserving our environment.

With this goal in mind, we have adopted a measured approach with a controlled pipeline of hotels and have committed a Dhs0.5bn investment to ensure we are developing attractions that will enhance the natural environment.

We are also investing in Cultural Conservation, with four tentative UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We are diversifying our portfolio with sustainable accommodation on Jebel Jais including Earth Hotel Altitude, an eco-based pop-up hotel concept and Saij, a Mantis Collection Mountain Lodge that will provide a mountain retreat experience.

Furthermore, a Tourism Business Accreditation Program was unveiled that will provide a management framework to help individual businesses grow their sustainability efforts as a means of benchmarking their performance. This approach to development is the cornerstone of our ambition to triple visitor numbers by 2030 and increase tourism’s contribution to Ras Al Khaimah’s GDP by 12 per cent.

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