Ras Al Khaimah, the picturesque Emirate, achieved unprecedented success in 2023, recording its best year for tourism ever.
The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) reported a staggering 1.22 million overnight arrivals, marking an impressive 8% increase from the previous year.
This remarkable feat was further bolstered by a substantial 24% year-on-year surge in international visitors, solidifying the Emirate’s standing as a global destination.
Strategic Growth Blueprint: Key Achievements of 2023
RAKTDA’s strategic growth plans played a pivotal role in this remarkable achievement. The Emirate invested significantly in tourism infrastructure, implemented targeted initiatives to attract more visitors, and fostered an ecosystem rooted in sustainability.
The year 2023 witnessed several key accomplishments:
International Allure: A remarkable 24% increase in international visitors, supported by over 2,200 international activities across 30 countries, ranging from roadshows to trade fairs and media events.
Business and Social Events Hub: Ras Al Khaimah solidified its status as a hub for business and social events, experiencing a 23% growth in MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) revenue and an astounding 103% increase in revenue from weddings.
Sustainable Recognition: Attaining the Silver Certification under EarthCheck’s Sustainable Destinations programme, Ras Al Khaimah became the only destination in the Middle East with this prestigious recognition. Over 20 tourism partners, including hotels and attractions, joined in this sustainable journey.
Global Acclaim: Ras Al Khaimah earned a spot on renowned travel lists, including CNN Travel’s best destinations, Condé Nast Traveler’s best places in Asia, Travel + Leisure India’s endorsement, and Forbes’ compelling recommendation.
Enhanced Connectivity: Strengthening international air connectivity, the Emirate introduced direct flights with leading airlines such as Qatar Airways, IndiGo, Smart Wings, Centrum Air, and SmartLynx.
Borderless Travel Initiative: Launching borderless travel with Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN Group), Ras Al Khaimah collaborated for cross-destination tourism promotion and marketing initiatives.
New Hospitality Icons: The debut of Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah Resort and the reopening of the iconic Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah after refurbishment.
Record-Breaking Events: Hosting a series of headline-grabbing events, including the 2023 WMF Minifootball World Cup, DP World Tour, RAK Half Marathon, Arab Aviation Summit, Exotic Wedding Planning Conference, and the Global Citizen Forum.
Guinness World Records Triumph: Setting two new Guinness World Record titles during the 2024 New Year’s Eve fireworks and drone display, attracting over 65,000 spectators.
Workplace Excellence: RAKTDA’s commitment to excellence was affirmed as it secured certification as a Great Place to Work® for the third consecutive year and ranked 4th in Best Workplaces in the Public Sector for the GCC in 2023.
Reflecting on the record-breaking 2023, Raki Phillips, the CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, expressed, “It has been a great year for our Emirate, one that clearly set the groundwork for sustainable growth and development in Ras Al Khaimah.”
Driving Growth: RAKTDA’s Endeavours in 2023
RAKTDA’s concerted efforts to promote Ras Al Khaimah to a broader global audience yielded significant results in 2023. The Emirate witnessed an 8% increase in total annual visitors, reaching the milestone of 1.22 million, with a notable 24% boost in international visitors.
Accompanying this growth, the hotel occupancy rate in the Emirate surged to an impressive 74%, indicating a year-on-year growth of 12 percentage points.
Strategic Partnerships: Cross-Destination Tourism Activities
With Ras Al Khaimah sharing its border with the Sultanate of Oman, RAKTDA strategically signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN Group).
This landmark partnership aims to foster cross-destination tourism activities, creating opportunities for travellers to explore both Ras Al Khaimah and Oman’s Musandam region in a single trip.
A critical aspect of achieving tourism goals is enhancing airlift into Ras Al Khaimah. In this regard, the introduction of Qatar Airways’ daily service to Ras Al Khaimah International Airport on November 1st, 2023, played a pivotal role. This new service opened up the Emirate to a network of over 160 destinations globally via the airline’s Doha hub.
India Connection: Boosting Tourism Source Market
Recognizing India as a major tourism source market, particularly for leisure, incentives, and weddings, IndiGo’s introduction of a direct service from Hyderabad, in addition to its existing direct Mumbai flight, accelerated arrivals growth.
The Emirate also witnessed growth in sea connectivity, welcoming luxury cruise liners and projecting a substantial increase in cruise calls in the coming years.
Sustainable Tourism: EarthCheck Certification and Responsible RAK Initiative
In 2023, Ras Al Khaimah achieved the prestigious Silver Certification under EarthCheck’s Sustainable Destinations program, marking a significant milestone in the Middle East.
RAKTDA went a step further by launching its own sustainability certification programme for tourism businesses, Responsible RAK. More than 20 hotels, attractions, and tour operators earned Responsible RAK Silver Certification, showcasing their commitment to sustainability.
The Emirate surpassed baseline averages in crucial sustainability areas, reporting a 23% improvement in energy consumption, a 29% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and a remarkable 61% decrease in waste output since 2021.
Hotel Portfolio Expansion: Driving Visitor Growth
Ras Al Khaimah’s burgeoning hotel portfolio played a central role in attracting more visitors. In 2023, several new hospitality projects were announced, including Nobu, Le Méridien, W Hotels, JW Marriott, Hilton, and Nikki Beach on Al Marjan Island, representing over 1,800 keys in total.
The destination also welcomed Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah Resort, with 174 rooms, suites, and villas, and witnessed the reopening of the iconic Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah after a comprehensive refurbishment.
Eventful Hub: Record-Breaking Events and Conferences
Ras Al Khaimah continued to solidify its reputation as a global hub for business and social events, experiencing a 23% growth in MICE revenue and a remarkable 103% increase in revenue from weddings in 2023.
The Emirate hosted several headline-grabbing events, including the Arab Aviation Summit, Exotic Wedding Planning Conference (EWPC), Global Citizen Forum, DP World Tour, and the RAK Half Marathon.
The Emirate achieved notoriety with its record-breaking 2024 New Year’s Eve extravaganza, setting two new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ titles with an eight-minute-long firework and drone display along a 4.5km stretch of Ras Al Khaimah’s waterfront.
In conclusion, Ras Al Khaimah’s triumphant 2023 serves as a testament to its strategic vision, sustainable initiatives, and commitment to providing a world-class experience for visitors.
As it steps into 2024, the Emirate is poised for continued success and growth in the global tourism landscape.