Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) announces its highest-ever annual visitor numbers, with the Emirate welcoming over 1.13M overnight arrivals in 2022, a total increase of 15.6% vs 2021. The results exceed pre-pandemic levels indicating recovery and resilience in a volatile year.
Despite geopolitical and economic challenges, Ras Al Khaimah has become one of the fastest destinations to bounceback. In addition to its record visitor numbers, key 2022 achievements include:
- Launched Balanced Tourism – its roadmap to becoming the regional leader in sustainable tourism by 2025
- Announced the largest foreign direct tourism investment project in partnership with Wynn Resorts, Marjan and RAK Hospitality Holding
- Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), Mövenpick and Radisson brands entered the destination for the first time, marking a 17% annual growth in hotel supply to over 8,000 keys
- 5,867 keys scheduled to be added over the next few years, a 70% increase on current inventory – among the highest growth rates in the UAE
- 40% increase in international visitors driven by 90+ roadshows, trade fairs, workshops and media events across 24 markets
- Recognition in Time magazine as one of the World’s Greatest Places of 2022 and CNN Travel’s best destinations to visit in 2023
- Opened new attractions, including Jais Sledder, which has seen more than 100,000 visitors since its February opening, and the longest developed hiking trails in the Emirate
- Achieved a visitor satisfaction score (NPS) of over 80% – far above the industry average of 51
- Hosted over 50 events including the prestigious Global Citizen Forum, 15th edition of the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, Arab Aviation Summit, DP World Tour and secured the 2023 Minifootball (WMF) World Cup for the first time in the UAE
- Two Guinness World Record titles at the New Year’s Eve fireworks and drone display
- Authority named one of the Top 10 Great Places to Work in the Middle East 2022
Commenting on the Emirate’s strong tourism performance in 2022, Raki Phillips, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, said: “It has been quite a year. From January’s announcement of the multibillion-dollar integrated Wynn resort – a project that will usher in a new era of economic development through tourism – to securing two Guinness World Record titles for our New Year’s Eve fireworks and drone display, we have shown just how dynamic we are as a destination. Our success has been led by our agility and responsiveness – and the fact we think like a community, shaping our experiences to appeal to visitors and residents. With a determined focus on diversification, accessibility and sustainability, we are on track for even bigger things in 2023.”
Strong December performance
The impressive full-year figures follow a strong December performance in which the Emirate welcomed its highest ever footfall in one month, with over 128,000 visitor arrivals, representing a 23% increase vs. December 2021. This was bolstered by the Emirate’s record-breaking New Year’s Eve fireworks and drones display, which saw Ras Al Khaimah set two GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ titles for of the ‘largest number of operated multi-rotors/drones with a simultaneous fireworks display’ and the ‘largest aerial sentence formed by multirotors/drones. The festivities drew over 30,000 visitors with public events and hotels across the Emirate fully booked, making it the most visited show to date.
Sustainable agenda for 2023 and beyond
Under its bold new approach to sustainability – Balanced Tourism, the Emirate will become the regional leader in sustainable tourism by 2025, placing all aspects of sustainability at the centre of its investment, from environment and culture to conservation and liveability.
As part of this, the tourism authority aims to award more than 20 businesses with tourism certifications in the first year with the ultimate goal of obtaining the internationally recognised “Sustainable Tourism Destination” certificate for Ras Al Khaimah in 2023.
Promoting employee well-being, the tourism authority was named one of the Top 10 Great Places to Work in the Middle East 2022 – the highest placed government entity – as well as one of the Best Workplaces for Women and a Great Place to Work in 2021, the first and only organization in Ras Al Khaimah to be awarded this certification. The Authority has also introduced RAKFAM, a series of initiatives aimed at enriching connectivity, community life and facilities for tourism sector employees in the Emirate.
Driving international tourism
2022 also saw a 40% increase in international visitors, with key source markets including Kazakhstan, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and Czech Republic. This was driven by a series of partnerships with airlines and leading tour operators to target emerging and growing source markets, supported by 90+ events and roadshows in 24 markets worldwide. In a further boost for the Emirate’s accessibility, Ras Al Khaimah also received three luxury cruises in 2022, welcoming over 2,500 passengers and crew. With a focus on developing its burgeoning cruise sector, the Emirate aims to attract 50 cruise ship calls each season, and over 10,000 passengers within the next few years.
Boosting the tourism and hospitality offering
New hotels and resorts opened in 2022, increasing the Emirate’s inventory by 17% to reach over 8,000 keys. The Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), Mövenpick and Radisson brands entered the destination for the first time with the opening of the InterContinental Mina Al Arab, Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island and the Radisson Resort Ras Al Khaimah Marjan Island.
With 19 upcoming properties, including global brands like Marriott, Millennium, Anantara and Sofitel, and 5,867 keys in the pipeline over the next few years, a 70% increase versus current inventory and one of the highest development rates in the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah’s tourism vision continues to gain momentum. A major addition will be the multibillion-dollar integrated resort development with Wynn Resorts in 2026, announced early last year. The multipurpose integrated resort marks the largest-of-its-kind foreign direct investment in Ras Al Khaimah and will include 1,000+ rooms, shopping, meeting and convention facilities, spa, more than 10 restaurants and lounges, extensive entertainment choices, and gaming area.
Another key feat for last year was Ras Al Khaimah’s inclusion in Time magazine’s World’s Greatest Places of 2022 – a highly coveted list of 50 must-visit global destinations – in recognition of its adventure offerings and stunning, unique topography and geodiversity. To further bolster the Emirate’s nature positioning and attract both international and domestic visitors, the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority also announced the opening of key new sustainable attractions, including the Jais Sledder, the region’s longest toboggan ride, which has welcomed over 100,000 visitors since opening in February.
Growing Ras Al Khaimah’s position as a world-class events hub
The Emirate’s position as a leading sporting destination went from strength to strength, with over 50 events hosted. Highlights included the 15th RAK Half Marathon, 23rd Annual Gumball 3000 rally, the first-ever Middle East route for the world-renowned supercar rally, the UAE Tour cycling and the DP World Tour golf championship. Ras Al Khaimah also won the competitive bid to host the 2023 Minifootball World Cup, beating Budapest and Manila to add the mega international football competition to its growing roster.
Additionally, the Emirate hosted numerous events and conferences, including the Arab Aviation Summit for the second consecutive year and the first Pacific Asia Travel Association Annual Summit in the Middle East. It also secured a three-year partnership with the Global Citizen Forum to host its prestigious annual summit.