Ras Al Khaimah advocates balanced tourism
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) announced its new approach to sustainability ‘balanced tourism’, a key milestone in its strategy to drive overall sector growth and become the regional leader in sustainable tourism by 2025. Unveiled at the Arabian Travel Market 2022, the region’s leading travel and tourism event, the vision underscores the emirate’s leadership in conscious tourism and aligns with its identity as a nature destination with a desire to progress, grow and evolve.
“We finished 2019 and got into 2020 as one of the fastest recovering destinations in the world and when you look at the results of the Q4 2021 and Q1 of 2022, we are way ahead of projections,” said Raki Phillips, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA). “As growth happens and as Ras Al Khaimah continues to attract investors from all over the world, the focus now is on balance – balancing new investments with the emirate’s culture and heritage, and sustainability elements.”
Last year at ATM, we announced half a billion dirhams worth of sustainable attractions”
– Raki Phillips
Under the all-encompassing banner of balanced tourism, the authority is shaping tourism in the UAE by placing all aspects of sustainability (environment, culture, conservation and liveability) at the centre of its investment and development strategy. By ensuring issues surrounding ‘over tourism’ – such as over development, crowding of heritage sites, and the spoiling of its unique natural environment – are avoided, it is creating a destination that will resonate with today’s responsible traveller.
Balanced tourism follows the authority’s announcement in September 2021 of its Sustainable Tourism Destination Strategy to secure the emirate’s long-term sustainability and drive overall growth through four key pillars: sustainable development; cultural conservation; attractions built with purpose; and community and liveability.
“Last year at ATM, we announced half a billion dirhams worth of sustainable attractions. A lot of them have been launched on Jebel Jais, such as Jais Wings, Jais Sledder, Bear Grylls Explorers Camp, and many more attractions are coming. We will be launching later this year RAK Fam, which will allow communities in Ras Al Khaimah to connect together, especially in our tourism entities,” said Phillips.
The recently announced integrated Wynn Resort, scheduled to open in 2026, will be a game changer for the UAE and will be developed sustainably as per the Barjeel Green Building Regulations. In fact, under the balanced tourism platform, all upcoming attractions will be purpose built with sustainability standards and processes.
Visitors can expect environmentally conscious development around Jebel Jais as well as across the more than 20 new sustainable tourism initiatives being developed across the Emirate. One example is the planned Scallop Ranch at Al Hamra Marine, a first of its kind attraction in the UAE that will support and enhance understanding of the marine ecosystem, with seagrass and sea cucumber species within the farm.
“In the new RAK Calling campaign, we wanted to do things a little differently. We decided to bring a group of creatives, influencers, and adventurers; we invited them to Ras Al Khaihmah and showcased our destination in a new way,” Phillips told us. “These talents included former Miss World Australia Jessica Kahawaty, Kris Fade, Virgin Radio presenter; Sherif Fayed, Egyptian TV host and actor; Khalifa Al Ghafri, wingsuit flyer who is known as ‘batman of Ras Al Khaimah’; Saeed Al Shamsi, an Emirati pro race driver; and Raha Moharrak, the first Saudi woman to scale the seven summits.”