How has RAK performed in terms of hospitality in 2017 and what are your expectations for 2018?
Ras al Khaimah has performed extremely well in 2017 with high hotel occupancy. We expect this to continue into 2018 across the 47 hotels in Ras al Khaimah, which cater extremely well for family travellers, those travelling on business and those travelling solo or as couples.
We reported 19% growth in the overall number of guests in 2017, with a substantial increase from emerging markets. With tourism arrivals to the Emirate rising 19% year-on-year, we are optimistic about reaching our goal of a million visitors by the end of 2018 and 2.9 million by the end of 2025. The particular focus we have placed on working with partners in emerging markets has been a great success and is providing significant growth benefits.
Hotel occupancies also performed well in 2017, with the average occupancy throughout the year at 73.6%. Average length of stay in 2017 was also up to 3.41 days, demonstrative of the increasing appeal of the destination beyond the weekend break or staycation.
What is the percentage of luxury hotels of your total room inventory? What is the ratio of leisure versus corporate travel
We currently have just over 5,400 rooms in Ras al Khaimah in the 3-5 star segment, 10% of which are from luxury hotels.
You have very ambitious plans for future development with many new luxury hotels in the pipeline. Does this translate into a premium / luxury positioning of RAK?
The emirate has more than 5,415 keys across 22 properties. Ras Al Khaimah’s iconic and leading hotels include:
Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah
Al Wadi Desert, Ras Al Khaimah, a Ritz Carlton Partner Hotel
The Cove Rotana Resort
DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island
Rixos Bab Al Bahr
Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa
Hilton Al Hamra Beach & Golf Resort
The number of hotels rooms in Ras Al Khaimah is set to increase by 4,445 rooms by the end of 2020, with 13 new hotel brands announced among which are global names such as Marriott, Movenpick, Sheraton, Anantara, Rezidor, Intercontinental and Crowne Plaza. By 2025, Ras Al Khaimah hotel capacity is expected to number 15,000 to 20,000 rooms to fulfil its vision of attracting 2.9 million visitors. The emirate’s Al Marjan Island is expected to boast 20 hotels by 2025.
Are there any plans to revive the RAK airline?
Currently there are no plans for a RAK airline as more than 90% of our international visitors come via Dubai airport hich is 45 minutes away
Which are the key markets you are presently focusing on in terms of incoming? What percentage of this is luxury? What are your mid-term / long term plans?
Our key source markets are Germany, Russia, UK and India. We have forayed successfully into Poland, Czech Republic and the Nordics and they are growing rapidly year-on-year and are part of our Top 10 international source markets. The luxury audience from these source markets vary but may be estimated at 10-15% of the total visitor base
You mention in your strategy a focus on adventure / wellness. Tell us more
We have identified three key tourist segments beyond the traditional sun and sand holidaymakers, namely active adventurers, cultural explorers and luxury indulgence and wellness seekers. As we continue into 2018 we are ensuring we have the hotel offer and tourism produce to continue the appeal of our destination to these audiences.
Adventure tourism is a key focus, with the development of the adventure tourism product in and around Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest mountain. We also launched the world’ longest zipline to the public last month and have already celebrated our 1,000th guest on the zipline. This is set to propel the UAE’s most northern Emirate into the major league of global adventure tourism across the globe as well as cement Jebel Jais as the region’s capital of outdoor adventure sports.
To what extent is private aviation a source of foreign travellers? What is the current capacity and what are your plans for future development?
Being so very close to Dubai International Airport and having an upscale carrier like Emirates Airlines connecting most of our Source markets effectively, we have very seldom seen Private aviation / private jets being used by our inbound tourists, especially through Ras Al Khaimah International Airport. That said, we have numerous requests where our tourists have wanted to be transferred from Dubai by Helicopter.
What is the profile of your most frequent guest / traveller?
At the moment, a large proportion (close to 90%) of our guests and travellers are families, however, we are seeing an increase in the amount of solo travellers visiting Ras al Khaimah, and those with a keen interest in adventure travel, which is no doubt in part attributed to the launch of the world’s longest and highest zipline last month.
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