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The mountain beckons... Ras Al Khaimah is rebuilding its tourism strategy around the great outdoors and all the thrills that come with it. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Ras Al Khaimah is not going to cast a wide net for tourists – at least immediately - when flights resume. Instead, it will look much closer for guests to turn up at its hotels.

As movement restrictions ease, the emirate is “well positioned to capture the local market, which currently accounts for 40 per cent of travellers coming in,” said Raki Phillips, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA).

There will be a staggered approach to resumption of flights, most likely with the launch of “fit-to-fly corridors”, based on bilateral arrangements between the UAE and other destinations.

“Bearing this in mind, we have laid out a four-step recovery process - first target the UAE, followed by GCC and wider Middle East, and then extend to Asia and Europe,” said Phillips.

Bring on the ‘staycationers’

The UAE-focussed ‘shortcation’ campaign offers guests three nights at Ras Al Khaimah hotels, two complementary passes to local destinations Jais Adventure Peak and Suwaidi Peal Farm and dining for free.

“We have mapped out short to mid-term solutions to mitigate the impact of coronavirus on travel to Ras Al Khaimah,” the official added.

The Tourism Authority announced a series of initiatives for the hospitality, leisure and development partners to help them through the coronavirus phase. This includes a financial package open to non-government owned entities owning mid- and four-star hotels, golf courses and tourism attractions.

Additional measures include a six-month waiver of all tourist licenses;, as well as “tourism dirhams” from March to May. Ras Al Khaimah also confirmed a 100 per cent waiver of tourism licensing fees for second and third quarters, and tourism licensing fines until September 30.

There will also be no participation costs companies wanting to be part of Ras Al Khaimah sponsored roadshows in 2020 and 2021.

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Hanging by a line... Jebel Jais has proved a compelling destination. And Ras Al Khaimah is adding to the reasons to pay a visit. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Need for a quick turnaround

Adding to its hotel capacity and expanding the number of top-notch attractions had helped the northern emirate last year. Visitor numbers for 2019 were up almost 4 per cent to 1.12 million over the year before.

A mountain destination

The launch of the Jebel Jais flights last year pulled in more than 40,000 visitors, who experienced the sheer thrill of speeds of up to 150kph at a height of 1,680 metres on top of the Jebel Jais mountain. Following that success, the tourism authority launched the Jais Adventure Peak early this year.

This spans the Jebel Jais Flight, the Jais Sky Tour (featuring seven ziplines and a 15-metre long sky bridge, the highest in the UAE), Jebel Jais Viewing Deck Park, and the Jais Sky Maze (a suspended obstacle course comprised of two levels of rope swings, wobbly bridges, swinging loops and more).

“For the cooler months, the emirate has a series of adventure-based projects in the pipeline, including the Jais Sky Drop, a controlled bungee jump,” Phillips added. “In addition there will be the much-anticipated Bear Grylls Survival Camp, providing participants a one-of-a-kind training experience, as well as the launch of an exciting new dining concept at Jais Adventure Centre - which will be the highest restaurant in the UAE.”

As the planning continues for the future, Phillips maintains an eye on the present. “We are closely monitoring developments and working closely - Our utmost priority is to ensure our visitors and employees are safe.”

Raki Phillips of RAKTDA
Ras Al Khaimah will have a staggered approach to get its visitors back after the COVID-19 imposed absence, according to Raki Phillips of the emirate's Tourism Development Authority. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive