Ras Al Khaimah gears to welcome 1.2m guests

The soon to open Rixos Bab Al Bahr

THE Ras Al Khaimah Hospitality Group has set itself a strategic target of welcoming 1.2 million visitors by next year as well as having 10,000 hotel rooms by 2016.

“This target comes ahead of our aspiration to position Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) as a leisure luxury destination,” says Victor Louis, chief executive officer, Ras Al Khaimah Hospitality Group.

The latest addition to the portfolio of hotel rooms in Ras Al Khaimah is the Rixos Bab Al Bahr.

Louis adds, “The next four years will be the first phase of our growth, where we look to achieve these hotel rooms and develop our leisure market. Once we have a strong inventory of hotel rooms and facilities, we can look to develop the Mice market.”

The emirate attracted 835,000 tourists in 2011, a strong growth from 500,000 the previous year, largely driven by the addition of hotels as well as charter flights from Europe to the emirate. Its biggest source markets today are Germany, the UAE and Russia.

“Today we are well perceived as being close to Dubai offering an authentic Arabian heritage and experience and this puts us in a strong position against other emirates.”

Part of the Authority’s key plans is to develop and preserve the heritage of Ras Al Khaimah.

Louis... plans to position RAK as a luxury leisure destination

While five-star properties like the Rixos Bab Al Bahr and a Waldorf Astoria, expect to open in the fourth quarter, is in the pipeline, Ras Al Khaimah is also keen to develop more four-star properties. “We are discussing with a couple of master developers – who will bring not just one hotel but grand projects that will see 1,000 – 2,000 rooms opening in Ras Al Khaimah. This is essential for us to achieve our targets.”

“As we look to develop the emirate as a leisure destination, it is essential to have a good mix of volume driven properties, bed and breakfast properties and all inclusive properties,” he adds.

“We are still a very young destination and this means we have the opportunity to develop much more. This year alone, we are confident of closing the one million tourist arrival numbers. This will be a 15 per cent growth from 2012 and further predict a 20 per cent growth next year.”

RevPar across hotels in Ras Al Khaimah saw a strong increase of 35 per cent in 2011 and a 50 per cent turn over year on year.  

“These are the good indicators for our investors to assure them that Ras Al Khaimah is the right destination to invest in today,” added Louis.

Besides hotel projects, Louis is keen to enhance the golf facilities as well as develop more excursion companies in the emirate.