This is a sponsored guest post from Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, what plans were put in place to support hotels and the tourism sector in Ras Al Khaimah?
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority fully understands and shares the concerns of its business partners regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, which has significantly disrupted the global travel and tourism industry. Our ongoing commitment to supporting the Authority’s industry partners was demonstrated through the ‘Tourism Support Initiatives’ issued in April this year. This early action helped offset the negative impact of the pandemic, alleviated hospitality suppliers from operational and financial stress, and placed focus on the industry making a strong comeback.
This was provided alongside real time support to aid recipients, where possible. Furthermore the Authority shared a comprehensive contingency plan, mapping out short- and long-term solutions to address the reduced footfall to the Emirate stemming from the impact of coronavirus including the Financial Incentive Package, open to non-government owned entities covering midscale and four-star hotels, golf courses and tourism attractions, in addition to wider tourism support initiatives, spanning a six-month waiver of all touristic licenses; waiver of tourism dirhams from March to May; 100% waiver of tourism licensing fees for Q2/Q3 and tourism licensing fines until September 30 as well as no participation costs for roadshows in 2020 and 2021.
We have also collaborated with our hospitality partners in June to create a special summer package, offering guests staying for three or more nights at any of Ras Al Khaimah’s participating 4 & 5 star hotels the chance to take advantage of a series of value-adds for a unique and memorable stay. The campaign, which was targeting domestic travel, drove bookings of more than 15,000 room nights.
What are the precautionary measures applied in the Emirate to ensure the health and safety of the visitors?
As travel starts to resume, our role as a tourism development authority is to ensure that robust measures are in place to protect the health and safety of our visitors and provide the peace of mind they need for a truly well-deserved holiday. The Authority has implemented strict sanitary and hygiene measures, resulting in it being the first city globally to be certified by Bureau Veritas, in addition to being the first Emirate to secure the Safe Travels Stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council. This naturally boosted visitors’ confidence and the demand of short getaways within the local market.
Current hospitality standards and procedures being implemented across the Emirate include the testing of all hotel staff for COVID-19, provision of masks and gloves for all guests, reduced capacity in public areas and restaurants, and mandatory thermal screening at all entrances on arrival. RAKTDA’s inspectors are undertaking daily spot checks to ensure the measures are being adhered.
We have also recently announced, in partnership with RAK Hospital free PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) testing to international visitors staying in and departing from Ras Al Khaimah until 31 December, 2020.
Once things go back to relative normality, how will RAKTDA encourage visitors to come back?
We believe that the UK traveler is a resilient one and therefore once the travel ban is lifted, they will start to travel again. UK is one of our top markets and we do feel that UAE has an advantage due to its proximity to Europe as a getaway destination, ease of visa issuance, destination offerings as well as high level of hygiene standards which will attract the UK traveller to come back to the destination.
With over 7,000 years of fascinating history, traditional culture and magnificent landscapes, Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates promises an authentic and accessible Arabian experience. The haven of year-round sunshine, features a rich backdrop of spectacular panoramas, ranging from 64 kilometers of pristine beaches, lush mangrove trees and undulating terracotta desert, to fertile, green oases and the dramatic, awe-inspiring vistas of the majestic Hajar mountains, including the country’s highest mountain peak – Jebel Jais – where adrenaline-packed adventures such as hiking, trekking, cycling and ziplining adventures await across its craggy ravines of the peak, which rises to 1,934 meters above sea level.
Ras Al Khaimah has more than enough exciting attractions to provide visitors with unforgettable experiences.
Visitors can enjoy Jais Adventure Peak, which serves as a gateway to the various attractions – the Jebel Jais Viewing Deck Park that features seven viewing decks to help you soak in stunning 360-degree vistas of the spectacular Hajar Mountains; and the Jebel Jais Flight, the world’s longest zipline which was launched in 2018. Another adventure attraction not to be missed is the Jais Sky Tour that comprises seven ziplines and a 15m-long sky bridge. The Jais Sky Maze challenges visitors to tackle a series of rope swings, wobbly bridges, swinging loops and more, as they make their way through the suspended obstacle course. Guests can also indulge in some sunset snacks and drinks, with magnificent views of the Hajar mountains, at the newly launched 1484 by Puro located atop the Jais Adventure Peak, the UAE’s highest restaurant offering.
In addition to this, we have recently announced Bear Grylls Explorers Camp (BGEC) on the UAE’s highest mountain. As Ras Al Khaimah continues to grow as the adventure capital in the Middle East, this exhilarating survival experience from one of the world’s best-known experts will drive us on that path to attract outdoor enthusiasts from across the globe.
As travellers across the globe navigate through the ‘new normal’, the opening of BGEC aligns seamlessly with travel experiences set in expansive, open and natural environments and that are curated for smaller groups with safety protocols and social distancing measures fully in place.
Visitors can also experience activities such as backpacking, abseiling, gorge walking and canyoning through the dry wadi surrounded by towering mountains and giant boulders. Operated by Adventurati, visitors will be surrounded by like-minded adventurers and will be awe-struck by the breath-taking views of the rocky mountains.
Guests also have the chance to indulge in a sunrise or sunset yoga session in the mountains to forget the hassles of everyday life awaits. Camping can also be done at one of the most popular trails now in Ras Al Khaimah – Wadi Showka. Located at the edge of the Hajar Mountains, Wadi Showka is a diverse area with many route options for hiking, running, cycling, and welcomes even those who simply want to camp out in nature. For those who want a touch of the finer life, star gazing can also be done at the Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi Desert under the vast night sky over the golden sands of the desert to experience serenity and learn about the solar system with the astronomy experts available on-site.
Ras Al Khaimah’s unique terracotta desert is also one of the most fertile in the region, owing to a higher than average rainfall. Guests can glean insight into Bedouin life at various desert camps or indulge their senses on four-wheel drive safaris and horse or camel treks. For a more unique experience, visitors can take on unrivalled horse and camel riding experiences, offered by the Al Wadi Equestrian Center within a 500-hectare landscape in the heart of Wadi Khadeja.
For those looking for cultural experiences and historical sites, the Suwaidi Pearls farm – the region’s first cultured pearl farm – offers tourists insight into the pearl cultivation and harvesting process, starting with the history of pearling and educates them on the evolution of the industry throughout the decades. Tourists can visit the many sites of historic significance across the Emirate, four of which have been identified by UNESCO within its tentative list of global heritage sites. These include Jazirah Al Hamra, Dhaya, Shamal and Julphar.
In addition to this, Ras Al Khaimah is also home to some of the world’s best hotels where hospitality starts with safety – from ultra-luxurious beach resorts managed by some of the most notable names in global hospitality, to family-friendly city and beach resorts, along with city centre properties for the more laid-back visitors to enjoy and relax within. The Emirate features spectacular properties by renowned brands Waldorf Astoria, Hilton, Rixos, Ritz-Carlton and many others, each of which offer unparalleled spa facilities such as the seaside massage in one of Cove Rotana’s beach gazebo.