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Initiatives to Support Tourism Sector in Ras Al Khaimah April 07,2020

Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAK TDA) announced its intention to launch several initiatives aimed at supporting its partners across hospitality sector during the COVID-19 crisis and developing solid foundations for its future recovery plan.

In a step reflecting the Emirate’s commitment to transparency, enterprise promotion and global community spirit and under the theme “ONE RAK”, RAK TDA shared its comprehensive crisis response plan with all its industry partners, and provided them with short to medium term solutions to mitigate the negative impact of the novel Coronavirus on the tourism sector in Ras Al Khaimah.
Addressing partners and stakeholders via a virtual meeting, CEO Raki Phillips highlighted that the hospitality industry was facing a grave threat from the coronavirus.  The UNWTO estimates losses from international visitor spends to be between $30-50 billion globally, while the World Travel and Tourism Council has found up to 50 million jobs have been put at risk
RAKTDA's prompt robust response sees the creation of an internal Stimulus Committee and Steering Stimulus Committee representing the emirate. Led by Raki Phillips and top executives across the hospitality, leisure and development sectors. Initiatives supporting the tourism sector include: a six-month fee exemption on tourism licenses; exemption on “Tourism Dirham” fees as of March until May; full exemption from tourism licensing fees for Q2-Q3, and exemption from tourism licensing fines until September 30. This support will be further enhanced by a dedicated Financial Incentive Package for non-government owned touristic entities, including a budget, midscale and 4-star hotels as well as attractions, golf courses and other tourism establishments, the tourism authority said, adding that in addition to this, hospitality partners will be able to benefit from complimentary participation in a diverse array of exhibitions and roadshows set to take place in 2020 and 2021 within the emirate and abroad.

RAKTDA's move complements 17 government initiatives (10 for individuals and seven for SMEs) announced by the Ministry of Economy, in addition to support by local developers, which includes three-month rental relief for residents and corporations, as well as the deferral of fees. Alongside the tourism initiatives, RAKTDA is focusing on tourism development and boosting the international presence of the Emirate through a suite of destination marketing strategies and reinforced promotion of the established Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions facilities, to revive the travel sector.

“Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority fully understands and shares the concerns of its business partners and guests concerning the COVID-19 outbreak, which is significantly disrupting the global travel and tourism industry. It is imperative that we are transparent in our communications and work together to find solutions to this very challenging situation,” said Phillips during the virtual meeting.

Its four-step road to recovery places initial focus on the domestic market, followed by the GCC and wider Middle East, to then be extended to Asia and Europe. Raki Phillips highlighted the return of the Russian market as a major driver of recovery, especially that it accounted for the largest number of visitors to the emirate in 2019. Conference participants emphasized the importance of scheduled flights as a major source of visitor flow to the emirate. In this regard, Phillips added: “Over time, governments are likely to take the initiative and identify safe and appropriate travel corridors to reactivate the aviation and travel sectors towards destinations that take strict measures to curb the spread of the infection, and those who have succeeded in overcoming this crisis.”

The plan also includes several promotional campaigns, such as the promotion of short holidays campaign, which targets citizens and residents of the UAE and allow guests booking a three-night stay in Ras Al Khaimah to obtain two free tickets for the emirate’s landmarks such as Jais Adventure Peak and Al Suwaidi Pearls Farm. With the aim of enhancing the tourist offers and options offered by the emirate, RAK TDA decided to bring back the free child accommodation and meals offer in order to encourage families to go to the emirate once restrictions are lifted.
As the world continues its efforts to curb the spread of the epidemic that negatively affected the hospitality sector in the Middle East and Africa and decreased occupancy rates in the UAE, Phillips said: “Promising news come from China confirming the country's rapid recovery. Although affected by the virus initially, hotel occupancy rates have returned to nearly 60%. Moreover, 87% of Chinese hotels have now returned to receive their visitors.”

The implementation of the new procedures is scheduled to commence in mid-April, as part of the ongoing efforts made by RAK TDA to emerge from this difficult period in collaboration with its partners.