08/06/2012 - Posted by Neil King
As the UAE tourism industry continues to grow, hoteliers are looking to secure property in Ras Al Khaimah to capitalise on travellers' love affair with the Middle East.Developers are increasingly concentrating on building resort complexes and other visitor attractions rather than residential dwellings.Indeed, projects under way include an AED 500 million (£88 million) complex funded by RAK Hospitality, with this hotel expected to welcome its first guests this year under the management of the Turkish operator Rixos.Furthermore, a Waldorf Astoria hotel - one of the luxury brands of international franchise Hilton Hotels - will be erected by the Al Hamra Group.The latter will be the first of its kind to bear the famous Waldorf name in the UAE and it is due to open in the first quarter of 2013.Group chief financial officer for Al Hamra Mark Hawkes said: "Commercially as a group, our strategy needs to evolve according to market conditions."We're expanding in the areas where we've identified growth. Tourism in Ras Al Khaimah is growing."The number of visitors to Ras Al Khaimah reached 835,000 in 2011, which is up from 2010's estimated 500,000 people who made their way to the emirate either for business or leisure.Authorities in Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority hope tourism in the region will comprise 20 per cent of its economy by 2021 and generate more than $1 billion annually.The emirate has planned to try to attract at least 12 million people from the start of next year, with some 3,500 hotel rooms under development or already open.To accommodate all these new visitors, Ras Al Khaimah decision-makers hope to have 10,000 hotel rooms by 2016.Head of hotel advisory at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels Middle East and Africa Chiheb ben Mahmoud stated: "Ras Al Khaimah is moving ahead with its strategy of strengthening its position as a tourism destination in its own right."He added that the emirate wants to enjoy the same success that tourism brought to fellow UAE hubs Dubai and Abu Dhabi.