Ras Al Khaimah is new hotspot for international hoteliers

Hilton and Rezidor among the hotels focusing on UAE's industrial emirate for new developments
Ras Al Khaimah is new hotspot for international hoteliers
Hilton Ras Al Khaimah
By Elizabeth Broomhall
Sun 10 Jul 2011 05:26 PM

Industrial Ras Al Khaimah is emerging as the new hotspot for international hoteliers, as millions of dollars are ploughed into tourist developments and visitor numbers continue to rise.

The Northern emirate, which is typically thought of as a low key, sleepy destination in comparison with glitzy neighbouring Dubai, is becoming increasingly popular with hotel chains such as Hilton and Rezidor.

According to Hilton’s country manager, Mohab Ghali, Ras Al Khaimah's strength lies in its versatility and its richness of culture.

"Overall visitor numbers are steadily increasing as the industry and government work in tandem to promote Ras Al Khaimah as a destination globally,” he said.

At the moment, Hilton operates three hotels in Ras Al Khaimah, including the Hilton RAK Resort & Spa, launched in 2001, Hilton RAK and the recently opened Double Tree.

The US chain, which has more hotels in RAK than any other emirate, is also planning further hotel openings over the next two years.

These will include the Waldorf Astoria RAK, the first of the luxury branded hotels to be opened in the UAE, and the Al Hamra Fort Hotel, which Hilton will manage.

Rezidor meanwhile, is opening its first RAK hotel in 2013, whilst eyeing other developments in the city for the future.

“We have a hotel of around 180 rooms under construction in the form of a Radisson Blu, which will open in 2013 and contribute to around 220 jobs in the city,” a spokesperson for the company told Arabian Business.

“Our business development team are also contemplating other opportunities in the market.”

Ras Al Khaimah recently announced plans to plough $100m into tourism projects over the next four years, in a bid to quadruple its tourist count.

The emirate, whose GDP comprises 1.5 percent of the UAE economy, is positioning itself as a low-cost destination tourists in an attempt diversify away from industries such as cement, pharmaceuticals and glass, which it has previously relied on.

By promoting itself to regional as well as international travellers, the emirate hopes that tourism revenues will account for 20 percent of its income by 2021.

The COO of the new tourism authority set up to push the initiative, Victor Louis, says RAK appeals to hoteliers due to rising of visitor numbers in the emirate and an increasing amount available beach plots.

“[Ras Al Khaimah] is one of the few destinations in the UAE and the Middle East which provides value for money,” he said.

“RAK is also one of the few areas that still has beach areas available for development.”

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