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Ras Al Khaimah – the emerging new hotspot for Indian travellers in UAE

Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) recently host a two-city trade roadshow in India covering New Delhi and Mumbai. The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah expects Indian arrivals to return to pre-pandemic levels this year, as healthy demand makes a comeback as soon as travel curbs were eased in India.

“India is one of our top five source markets for international tourist arrivals. As a nature-based Emirate, we offer a variety of experiences for different segments, from solo travellers to family groups. We are already noticing a strong demand from wedding and MICE segments. Considering the short flight duration from India, we also promote Ras Al Khaimah as a weekend destination for Indians,” said Iyad Rasbey, Executive Director – Destination Tourism Development & MICE, RAKTDA.

When asked about the strategy to compete with well-established neighbours like Abu Dhabi and Dubai to gain Indian travel market share, Rasbey said, “Each of the emirates in the UAE doesn’t compete but complements each other when it comes to tourism offerings. We are not here to compete with Abu Dhabi, Dubai or Sharjah but work with them to attract more Indian travellers and ensure that they experience each of the regions with great passion. There is a market for each of us and we are here to create our own market share.”

Ras Al Khaimah received almost 1.1 million tourists, including 60,000 to 65,000 from India, in 2019. “In 2020 our overall tourist count was 715,000. But the majority were domestic travellers. We didn’t receive many from India due to travel restrictions back then. But in 2021, with travel restrictions in India, we received 30,000 to 35,000 tourists, while the overall count was close to 980,000,” added Rasbey.

Under the long term tourism vision, Ras Al Khaima aims to become a regional leader in sustainable tourism attracting over 3 million visitors annually by 2030. “We will nurture a tourism industry that is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable and supports quality of life for our citizens and workforce while conserving our unique environment,” added Rasbey.

Apart from its nature-based experiences, Ras Al Khaimah will promote new products like Jais Sledder – the region’s longest toboggan ride – to the Indian market.

The destination will expand its hotel room inventory with 3,000 more keys over the next two years in four and five-star categories. It now has 7,720 keys under which 3830 are in the 5-star category, 2197 are in the 4-star category, 764 in the 3-star category, 125 rooms under the 2-star, 138 keys in the 1-star, 72 are holiday villas, 176 guest houses and 418 apartments.

At present 85 per cent of international tourists to Ras Al Khaimah arrive through Dubai airport. Low-cost carrier SpiceJet is the only airline that operates direct flights between India and Ras Al Khaimah.

“We are in talks with another Indian airline to strengthen direct air connectivity with Ras Al Khaimah. We expect these direct flights to be operational in 3Q2022,” said Rasbey.

RAKTDA appointed One Rep Global as the exclusive India representation partner, responsible for driving holistic sales, trade marketing and PR strategies in India.