Ras Al Khaimah: Ras Al Khaimah attracted 1,072,066 visitors last year exceeding a three-year plan set in 2016 to attract one million visitors by 2018, according to results published by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) on Tuesday.

RAKTDA also reported a 10 per cent growth in visitors compared to 2017, led by the UAE domestic market which continues to generate 38 per cent of overall visitors. Germany continues to be the leading international market source with 83,605 visitors, followed by Russia, with 83,531 visitors — up by a significant 17 per cent on 2017. The third largest source market was the UK, with 63,054 visitors, up 11.5 per cent; India was fourth with 62,325 visitors, up 22 per cent; rounding out the top five was Kazakhstan with 27,168 visitors, a growth of 28 per cent.

One of the key factors driving more tourists to Ras Al Khaimah was the launch of the world’s longest zip line on Jebel Jais in 2018, which has welcomed over 25,000 flyers since opening 12 months ago. A release said that this had strengthened Ras Al Khaimah’s credentials as the fastest growing adventure tourism destination in the region. The emirate has further increased its appeal for day trippers, said the statement, with the opening of a Viewing Deck Park at the top of Jebel Jais.

Further development is planned including a 47 room Luxury Mountain Camp, a Survival Training Academy, 64.72-km of Hiking Trails and the Jebel Jais Adventure Park.

Haitham Mattar, CEO of RAKTDA said: “2018 has been another remarkable year for the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah in terms of achievements and milestones accomplished, primarily exceeding our target of 1 million visitors. With the current robust visitor demand, solid regional and international partnerships in place and iconic product launches over the past few years, Ras Al Khaimah is on a mission to further assert its position as the fastest growing tourism destination in the region, whilst promoting our emirate’s breadth of offerings to regional and international target markets.”

RAKTDA recently announced the launch of its new Destination Strategy 2019-2021. The strategic three-year programme will focus on diversifying the emirate’s tourism offering to attract a wider segment of tourists and more investment.

“As our tourism offering evolves in Ras Al Khaimah, we must ensure our destination is attractive to travellers who wish to explore beyond the resorts and hotels. Through our new destination strategy 2019-2021 we will continue to create compelling offerings that combine the emirate’s key promises: pristine beaches; natural beauty; culture and heritage; excellence in hospitality and unrivalled experiences in order to attract close to 1.5 million visitors by 2021, and three million visitors by 2025,” added Mattar.

The new Destination Strategy will also look to expand tourism driven employment. By 2021 RAKTDA aims to support the employment of 10,000 more people into the tourism and hospitality sector, nurture investment for small and medium businesses, and raise the overall competitiveness of the industry attracting increased international and local investment enabling sustainable growth.