Ras Al Khaimah, one of the UAE’s popular tourist destinations, reported its highest-ever visitor numbers in July, as COVID-19 restrictions eased and travellers returned.
A total of 109,048 guests arrived in the emirate during the month, representing about a quarter (25 percent) of the international and domestic visitors recorded for the first six months of the year, according to figures released by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA).
Out of the total number of people visiting the emirate in the first half of the year, more than 223,000 were international travellers, while at least 206,000 were UAE residents. Visitor arrivals for the first half was also nearly 40 percent higher than in the same period last year.
The surge in numbers is due to the opening of the world’s largest Hampton by Hilton hotel at the beginning of July, which recorded more than 6,000 guests during the early weeks of operations, as well as the easing of UK border restrictions on travellers coming from the UAE.
Ras Al Khaimah is home to several beach resorts by global hospitality brands, as well as local attractions including the zipline in Jebel Jais and the Hajar Mountains. It was named the Gulf Tourism Capital for both 2020 and 2021 by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Throughout the pandemic, visitor numbers in the emirate recorded a 25 percent fall, but the tourism body maintained that the decline is three times less severe than the global average at the virus’ peak. Colliers has recently forecast that the emirate’s occupancy could reach 89 percent in 2021, up by 27 percent compared to 2020.
“Its latest record-breaking July visitor numbers are a strong indication of continued recovery for the scenic emirate,” RAKTDA said in a statement.
Raki Phillips, CEO of RAKTDA, said they expect further increase in numbers for the second half of 2021, especially with the inclusion of the UAE in the UK’s amber list and the emirate’s sustainable tourism development initiatives.
“We are investing half a billion dirhams into the destination, a move that includes several nature-based sustainable projects on Jebel Jais that are due to open in the coming months,” continued Phillips.
Phillips pointed out that RAK is a case study in terms of the successful management of the COVID-19 pandemic. The emirate’s initiatives range from implementing “robust” safety measures, vaccination drives for travel and tourism workers, as well as free return PCR testing for international visitors.
(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)
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© ZAWYA 2021