Kahini Chakraborty – Ras Al Khaimah
With an aim to promote itself as an affordable luxury standalone tourism destination in the emirate, Ral Al Khaimah (RAK) government has attracted investments from major international hotel brands for its Al Marjan Island project. Said to be one of their biggest project, the island has already witnessed the opening of major hotel brands namely- 650 keys Rixos Al Bahr Resort; the 301-room Marjan Island Resort & Spa; the 484-key DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa, Marjan Island and the 346 room Ras Al Khaimah Waldorf Astoria. In 2015, the island will also witness the opening of the 265-room Santorini Hotel, a part of The Bin Majid Group. Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Mohamed Khater, business development manager, Government of Ras Al Khaimah said, “Presently the destination has 5,200 room inventory, but the target is to reach 10,000 rooms by 2020. We are also looking at developing resort properties in the mountain areas and developing tourist attractions as well.” However, when asked about the investments for the projects, Khater refrained from divulging information. The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Authority is targeting leisure, honeymoon and MICE travellers from the India market. The top five source markets of the destination include UAE, Germany, Russia, UK and India.
As part of its tourism offerings, the department is promoting Al Hamra Golf Club, Tower Links Golf Club, Ras Al Khaimah Country Club for golf lovers, water sports adventure activities at RAK Sailing Academy, adventure sports, catamaran yacht, and the desert safari. For leisure travellers- Iceland Water Park, Al Hamra Marina & Royal Yacht Club, Falcon Show, Jazirah Aviation Club and Pearl Excursions. Besides this, the department is also offering experiences at Bassata Desert Village, Bedouin Oasis Desert Camp, Prince of Sea, Seawings, National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah, Dhayah Fort and Jazirat Al Hamra.
When asked about the tourist arrivals to the destination, Khater informed, “Last year the destination witnessed a total guest nights of 1.2 million and in the future the department is looking at achieving two million guest nights.” In order to achieve their targets, the department is looking at working closely with the travel trade in India. They will also organise seminars, workshops, FAM trips and be present at important trade fairs.
In terms of direct flight connectivity, Khater added that Air Arabia, the official carrier of Ras Al Khaimah and an LCC in the Middle East and North Africa, is also looking at starting four times a week direct flight from Calicut in the near future. Presently the airline offers connectivity to Ras Al Khaimah via Sharjah from 13 cities in India- Mumbai, Goa, Nagpur, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Thiruvanathapuram, Kochi, Kozikhode and Coimbatore.