As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps through countries around the world, the leadership of Ras Al Khaimah is already preparing for when life returns back to normal. Ras Al Khaimah is one of seven members of the United Arab Emirates. Nestled in the northwestern region of the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah is one of the few emirates not to be able to rely upon natural oil reserves. As a result, RAK ruler Sheikh Saud has been engineering his economy around building up the tourism and hospital sector. How has Ras Al Khaimah prepared for life after coronavirus? Let’s take a closer look.
Ras Al Khaimah has long been an under-the-radar tourism destination for worldly travelers with an eye for adventure. Thanks to the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, an intense focus has been put on providing ample support for members of the hospitality sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. The RAKTDA has put together an internal stimulus group to develop support for non-government hospitality entities. Led by Raki Phillips, the chief executive of RAKTDA, the stimulus measure aims to provide a six-month waiver for all touristic licenses, fees, and fines. A financial incentive package is purported to follow in the months to come.
According to RAK leadership, more than 15,000 full-time workers are reliant on maintaining steady tourism in the region. As one of the go-to regions in the entire Middle East, the RAK Tourism Development Authority has been pushing a new hashtag labeled #FindRAKLater to discuss and encourage a return to business as usual. In the meantime, Ras Al Khaimah is dealing with a sudden and disastrous drop in visitors. Through the first two weeks of March 2020, more than 50k tourists had swept through Ras Al Khaimah. Following strict safe-at-home orders, tourism numbers would dwindle to all but a stop.
Raki Phillips has been vocal about how important tourism has been to the region in the face of the pandemic. Phillips spoke in an interview with The National to reveal, “Travel and tourism has been one of the worst-hit industries from this pandemic, but we are looking at how we are going to come out of this.” Phillips went on to underline a primary point of confidence, the tourism industry, he believes, will be the quickest industry to adjust to life after the pandemic. Phillips stated, “Once we come out of this pandemic it is important to support local businesses and destinations because that will be our lifeline when things open up again.”
Phillips, as well as RAK leadership, have been focusing extensively on preparing their home for a life after the pandemic comes to an end but they are not the only ones. According to an estimate released by the UNWTO, losses from international tourists could sit between $30 and $50 BILLION on a global scale. As everyone adjusts to this new world, could Ras Al Khaimah cement themselves as a true modern leader in the United Arab Emirates thanks to their strong response to the COVID pandemic?