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The rising Emirate jumps on the tourism bandwagon

October 6, 2014 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Ras Al Khaima, the northern Emirate in United Arab Emirates is following the footsteps of Dubai and Abu Dhabi in expanding tourism products with its affordable luxury.

Mohamed Khater, Business Development Manager, Ras Al Kahima (RAK) Tourism Development Authority (TDA), said: “We’re a new standalone destination with own facilities and activities. We’re competitive with good availability of rooms. All attractions including beach and water activities, desert activities, mountain drives and solo flying experience at the aviation club are at a maximum of 20 minute drive from any hotel with little traffic on the way.”

Jebel Al Jais, Ras Al Khaima

RAK has three elements of attraction-the desert, beaches and mountains. It can either be a weekend or a long getaway. National Museum housed in an old palace houses historic objects substantiating the regions 4560 year olg history.

Sailing, catamaran tours and sunset and dinner tours are popular. Flying boat activity available in RAK is a rare experience. Desert safaris and late evening camps with entertainment are available. Night entertainment includes beach parties and dance nights, mostly by hotels, that can stretch upto 3 am.

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RAK has two 18 hole Golf clubs Al Hamra and Tower Links. The later has a tough terrain with some challenging natural landscape.

Khater said: “RAK has historically been among the top pearl diving destinations. A Pearl Diving Museum is opening next to the diving centre by January 2015. We have a chain of mountains stretching up close to Oman. Mountain activities are popular during winter months starting October until March. Government is planning to develop more activities here.”

Four year old Iceland is the biggest water ride park in UAE with a capacity to entertain 10,000 guests every day and is a popular family attraction even for visitors from the region.

Sanjiv Ahluwalia,CEO, Polo RAK Amusements, that owns the Iceland, said: “RAK has added 2000 rooms this year alone. The Emirate is a good option for tourists looking for a change in the region. We have currently developed 25 acres of the total 120 acres. We’ll be developing a 200 room resort.”

Iceland is a member with World Water Park Association, USA and receives 300,000 visitors a year.

Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaima

RAK has 3500 rooms in 4 & 5 star category and another 1700 rooms in one to three star categories. It targets to have 10,000 rooms by 2020. Most of the hotels are located on the beachfront and offer water sports.

UAE’s first Woldorf Astoria opened in August 2013 and four five star luxury properties in Marjan Island and Al Hamra area have opened in the last nine months.

Khater said: “We also have good MICE facilities. Al Hamra Convention Centre can host 1500-2000 guests. There are many hotels in its proximity to accommodate guests. Most hotels in RAK have their own in-house meeting facilities.”

RAK malls have many similar brands like those offered by Dubai malls, but the malls here are less crowded and hotels arrange for complimentary shuttles between the hotel and shopping malls.

water rides at Iceland, RAK

Newly opened RAK Country club provides horse riding of an Arabic horse. Camel Race in end October is a popular activity to where hotels arrange free shuttle services for their guests.

Air Arabia, the official airline of Ras Al Khaima, started operations to the Emirate on 2 May this year. Ras Al Khaima airport is 20 minutes away from the city, 55 minutes drive from Dubai Airport and 40 minutes from Sharjah airport.  Seawings seaplane makes scheduled four days a week trips between RAK and Dubai.

India is the fifth top source market behind UAE, Germany, Russia and UK for RAK. The NTO hosted two separate groups of Indian travel agents and media for a familiarization tour of four days last month.

RAK had a total number of guest nights of 1,273,498 in 2013.A total of 330,048 people visited the emirate in the first half of the year, generating approximately $118.7 million.

Written by : Anand & Madhura Katti

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