Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority launches a new approach to sustainable tourism: balanced tourism
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) announces its bold new approach to sustainability –Balanced tourisma key step in its strategy to drive the overall growth of the sector and become the regional leader in sustainable tourism by 2025.
Unveiled at the Arabian Travel Market 2022, the region’s premier travel and tourism event, the vision highlights the emirate’s leadership in conscious tourism and aligns with its identity as a nature destination with a desire to progress, grow and evolve.
Under the global banner of Balanced tourism, the Authority shapes tourism in the United Arab Emirates by placing all aspects of sustainability (environment, culture, conservation and livability) at the center of its investment and development strategy. By ensuring that the problems associated with “over-tourism” – as overdevelopment, overcrowding of heritage sites and deterioration of its unique natural environment – is avoided, it creates a destination that will resonate with today’s responsible traveler.
Balanced Tourism follows the Authority’s announcement in September 2021 of its Sustainable Tourism Destination Strategy to ensure the emirate’s long-term sustainability and drive overall growth through four key pillars: sustainable development; cultural conservation; Attractions built with purpose; and Community and Quality of Life.
Raki Phillips, Director General of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, said: “The need for good stewardship of our cultural heritage, our environment, our people and our infrastructure has never been greater, especially in post-pandemic times. Balanced Tourism does just that as we become increasingly aware of the economic, social and environmental impacts of tourism. Simply put, it’s time to go beyond just using less plastic to take a holistic approach – ensuring that new projects such as hotels are developed at an organic pace to building new sustainability-oriented attractions.
Known as “the emirate of nature”, Ras Al Khaimah has 64 km of pristine beaches, wildlife-rich mangroves, rolling terracotta deserts, impressive wadis and breathtaking mountains. These natural assets constitute the backbone of the key values of the destination, and their protection is a key axis. With this in mind, the tourist board has applied a conscious approach to new hotel developments, consulting with hotel partners to ensure spacious venues, with thoughtful and sustainable landscaping, and maintaining a measured pipeline to avoid expansion and rapid and less well-planned overpopulation.
As the licensing authority for all new hotel developments, the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority is able to establish guidelines and protocols to regulate sustainability standards and work closely together with hotels to ensure sustainable practices. This includes the recently announced integration Wynn Resort, scheduled to open in 2026, which will be developed in accordance with the Barjeel Green Building Regulations. There is also Altitude of Earth Hotelsan eco-friendly pop-up hotel concept set to open in Jebel Jais in Q4 2022, featuring 15 fully-equipped accommodation units, an activation center and swimming pool, and Saij Mountain Innwhich will open on Jebel Jais in 2023, a protected and sustainably managed hill station offering sustainable lodges made from natural and sustainable materials.
The integrated approach also includes cultural conservation. As well as being the most fortified emirate, with over 65 forts due to its importance as a trade route, Ras Al Khaimah is home to four archaeological sites which are tentatively inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, more than any other emirate. The Authority has established a long-term investment plan to protect and enhance these and other key cultural projects. This includes Suwaidi Pearl Farm, the only site in the UAE that still cultivates local pearls, all handmade to preserve the culture and traditions of the emirate. It has also embarked on a three-phase restoration program to Jazira Al Hamra, one of the last remaining pearl fishing and sailing towns in the Persian Gulf. Scheduled to be completed in 2025, experts are working under UNESCO guidelines to restore the village, using traditional and sustainable materials, to make it potentially accessible to the public as an attractive tourist destination.
Attractions with a purpose
As part of the Balanced Tourism Platform, all future attractions will be purpose-built with sustainability standards and processes. Visitors can expect environmentally friendly development around Jebel Jais as well as through more than 20 new sustainable tourism initiatives being developed in the emirate. An example is the project Scallop Ranch at Al Hamra Marine, a first-of-its-kind attraction in the United Arab Emirates that will support and enhance understanding of the marine ecosystem, with seagrass and sea cucumber species within the farm.
Community and quality of life
In addition, the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Authority also embraces the concept of quality of life as part of its balanced tourism philosophy. This includes several progressive policies put in place to promote employee well-being, which led to the Authority being named the sixth best workplace in the UAE by Great Place to Work® for 2022 in the Small and Medium category. organizations, the highest ranked government entity. It was also named one of the best places to work for women and a great place to work in 2021, the first and only organization in Ras Al Khaimah to achieve this certification. The Authority has also introduced RAKFAM, a series of initiatives aimed at enriching connectivity, community life and facilities for employees in the tourism sector in the emirate.
Sustainability as a driver of growth
Under the leadership of the Authority in December last year, government entities, hotels and private sector industries came together at the 2021 Global Citizens Forum in Ras Al Khaimah to collectively commit to implementing the the emirate’s sustainable tourist destination strategy which will see it become the regional leader in terms of the environment. conscious tourism by 2025.
Providing a framework of action for a diverse program of activities, the guiding principles include:
- Protect and enhance the cultural and natural heritage of the emirate
- Achieve new sustainable tourism developments
- Work with businesses, governments and community partners to ensure economic returns from tourism investments and human capital development
- Regular measurements and benchmarks
- Minimize energy, water consumption and waste production throughout the destination
- Respect and safeguard local culture and communities
For more details on Ras Al Khaimah, its attractions, developments and balanced tourism initiatives, please visit www.visitrasalkhaimah.com or www.visitjebeljais.com. You can also check out the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority booth at the Arabian Travel Market, ME3310.