Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) has reported its best year for tourism. Notably, it welcomed a record 1.22 million overnight arrivals to the emirate in 2023, up 8 percent on 2022 numbers, bolstered by a significant 24 percent year-on-year pick-up in international visitors.
The robust performance is underscored by RAKTDA’s strategic growth plans. Notably, from investment in tourism infrastructure to developing an ecosystem rooted in sustainability, RAK continues to reinforce its position as a destination of the future.
Ras Al Khaimah’s achievements in 2023
The emirate witnessed a 24 percent increase in international visitors, supported by over 2,200 international activities from roadshows, trade fairs to media events across 30 countries.
Moreover, it cemented its status as a business and social events hub, recording 23 percent growth in MICE revenue and 103 percent increase in revenue from weddings.
Additionally, it achieved silver certification under EarthCheck’s world-leading Sustainable Destinations program. Remarkably, Ras Al Khaimah is the sole Middle East destination to achieve this certification level, joined by more than 20 tourism partners.
Ras Al Khaimah was also featured in CNN Travel’s best destinations to visit in 2023, in addition to Condé Nast Traveler’s best places to go in Asia 2024. Furthermore, it made it on Travel + Leisure India and Forbes news.
Ras Al Khaimah has enhanced its global connectivity, introducing direct flights with Qatar Airways, IndiGo, Smart Wings, Centrum Air and SmartLynx. It is important to note that launching borderless travel with Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN Group) boosted visitor arrivals to Ras Al Khaimah and Musandam. Moreover, the debut of Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah Resort marked the start of 2024. Furthermore, it was complemented by the reopening of Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah following extensive refurbishment.
The emirate staged numerous headline-grabbing events, including the 2023 WMF Minifootball World Cup, Exotic Wedding Planning Conference and the Global Citizen Forum. Furthermore, the destination set two new Guinness World Record titles and attracted over 65,000 visitors to its 2024 New Year’s Eve fireworks and drone display.
Drawing in more visitors to Ras Al Khaimah
RAKTDA’s efforts to promote the emirate to an even broader global audience paid dividends in 2023, delivering an 8 percent increase in total annual visitors to reach the 1.22 million milestone. This was supported by 24 percent boost in international visitors. Complementing this growth, the hotel occupancy rate in the emirate also saw a significant rise, recording an impressive 74 percent and marking a year-on-year growth of 12 percentage points.
Sharing a border with Oman, Ras Al Khaimah signed an MoU with OMRAN Group, fostering cross-destination tourism initiatives for mutual benefit. Aiming to position Ras Al Khaimah and Oman’s Musandam region as leading global tourism destinations, this strategic partnership opens opportunities for travelers.
Connecting the world to the emirate
Improving accessibility to Ras Al Khaimah is crucial to achieving tourism arrivals goals. Furthermore, on November 1, 2023, Qatar Airways launched a daily service to RAK International Airport. It consequently opened up the emirate to a network of 160-plus destinations globally via the airline’s Doha hub.
Ras Al Khaimah also welcomed six calls by four luxury cruise liners in H1. Moreover, it will receive 14 luxury cruise calls in the 2023/2024 season, growing to 20 by 2025/2026 and 50 by 2030/2031.
Responsible tourism development
In 2023, the emirate achieved Silver Certification under EarthCheck’s Sustainable Destinations program. Bolstering this initiative, RAKTDA launched its own sustainability certification program for tourism businesses, Responsible RAK. More than 20 hotels, attractions and tour operators have earned Responsible RAK Silver Certification to date.
More rooms driving visitor growth
Ras Al Khaimah’s fast-growing hotel portfolio is central to delivering more arrivals to the emirate.
In 2023, Ras Al Khaimah announced several hospitality projects. Such as Nobu, Le Méridien, W Hotels, JW Marriott and Hilton on Al Marjan Island. Nikki Beach on Mina Al Arab was revealed, contributing to a total of over 1,800 keys. The destination celebrated the full opening of Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah Resort on January 2, 2024. The project featured 174 rooms, suites and emirate’s first overwater villas. Also, the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah underwent extensive refurbishment.
Looking ahead, Ras Al Khaimah anticipates the opening of various hotel projects in 2024/2025. Upcoming hotel projects include Westin Resort (257 keys) and Sofitel Al Hamra (292 keys). In addition to Rove Al Marjan Island (441 keys), Rotana Mangrove (258 keys) and Saij (70 keys). Furthermore, the USD 3.9 billion Wynn Al Marjan Island, will boast 1,500 keys. The mega-resort will feature 24 dining and lounge experiences and extensive entertainment choices.
A fast-growing events hub and record breaker
Ras Al Khaimah continues to cement its status as a global hub for business and social events. In 2023, it recorded 23 percent growth in MICE revenue and 103 percent increase in revenue from weddings. The emirate also hosted the Arab Aviation Summit and Exotic Wedding Planning Conference (EWPC). As a result, Ras Al Khaimah solidified its standing as a premier sports events destination with the kickoff of the 2023 WMF Minifootball World Cup in November.
Ras Al Khaimah also gained international attention with its record-breaking 2024 New Year’s Eve extravaganza. A spectacular eight-minute firework and drone display along a 4.5-kilometer stretch of Ras Al Khaimah’s waterfront set two new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ titles.