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From being a mere weekend getaway for residents of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and other emirates, Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) is fast emerging as a tourist destination for international travellers. The steady rise in tourists is prompting many international hotel chains to ‘serve’ this “rising emirate.”
According to figures provided by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, around 1.1 million tourists had visited RAK in 2012, a significant jump of more than 30 per cent compared to 2011.The number of tourists to have visited RAK in 2013 is estimated to be 1.2 million.
Currently, the emirate has nine beach and resort hotels along with six hotels located in the heart of the city accounting for around 3,300 rooms. But the numbers are likely to swell dramatically to around 10,000 rooms in the next two years. Several luxury hotels are coming up on Al Marjan Island, a man-made island.
Majority of tourists are from Germany followed by Russia, Ukraine and Italy. Aggressively marketing the emirate among Russian tourists, the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority is promoting regular charter flights from the country. According to an agreement, charter flights operated by a Russia-based airline will arrive every Tuesday and Friday from Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport bringing 12,000 additional Russian visitors to the UAE, from which 8,000 will be accommodated in hotels in RAK. This initiative started from October 2012 and will run until March 2014.
Affordability is the major reason for the upswing in fortunes for RAK among tourists. According to market estimates, hotel rents in Dubai, even in lean season, are almost $100 dearer compared to hotels in RAK.
• Estimates said 1.2 million tourists would have visited RAK in 2013
• International chains are opening new hotels on Al Marjan Island
• Authorities have unveiled special measures to attract tourists
Source: S. Dhar, Special to Properties
The writer is a freelancer