UAE tourist destination with sun, fun and adventure

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UAE tourist destination with sun, fun and adventure
With the installation of the world's longest zipline at Jebel Jais in January, Ras Al Khaimah has become one of the hottest attractions for adrenaline junkies in the UAE and the entire Gulf region.

Dubai - Northern Emirates are reaping the benefit of UAE tourism drive

By Waheed Abbas

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Published: Thu 22 Nov 2018, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Sat 24 Nov 2018, 8:17 AM

Tourist inflow to the UAE continues with the Northern Emirates increasing their role in attracting more foreign tourists with the key focus on culture, heritage, adventure and three S's - Sun, Sand and Sea - tourism.
According to industry analysts and officials, the emirates of Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman and Sharjah are transforming themselves into a bigger tourist destinations through regular participation in global events, various promotions and by focusing on aspects that complement Dubai and Abu Dhabi tourism. For instance, Sharjah is mainly focusing on promoting the emirate as heritage and cultural destination of the Arab World while Ras Al Khaimah is attracting more of adventure tourists as well as trying to cash in on its beaches.
With the installation of the world's longest zipline at Jebel Jais in January, Ras Al Khaimah has become one of the hottest attractions for adrenaline junkies in the UAE and the entire Gulf region. Luxury camps and mountain biking routes are also expected to grace the area in the next couple of years.
In the UAE, Euromonitor International predicts that Dubai will lead with 16.65 million inbound city arrivals in 2018 followed by 2.4 million in Abu Dhabi, 1.86 million in Sharjah, 579,000 in Ras Al Khaimah, 399,000 in Ajman and 274,000 in Fujairah. 
According to Rabia Yasmeen, research analyst, Euromonitor International, Dubai is preparing to welcome over 20 million tourists in 2020, the UAE remains the region's tourism hub with continued investment in the sector as the country gets ready for Expo 2020 Dubai.
"While tourism is heavily concentrated in key cities, dispersion to Northern Emirates is picking up pace as they are starting to reap the benefits of their marketing efforts," she said in Megratrends Shaping the Future of Travel report.
Christopher Lund, head of hotels at Colliers International Mena, said 2018 has been an interesting year in the UAE, slower than expected growth in visitor arrivals has occurred in the primary UAE markets such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai. For example, airport passenger traffic at Dubai International has achieved a growth of 1.4 per cent as of year-to-date in September 2018, in comparison with the 19 per cent growth it had achieved by the same period in 2017.
"However, emerging Emirates have managed to develop, with Ras Al Khaimah experiencing a 9.1 per cent growth in visitor arrivals as of YTD September 2018. To sum, a slower expected growth has occurred in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, while Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah both saw growth of over 5 per cent in their respective YTD tourist arrivals," Lund said.
Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry, director-general at the Ajman Tourism Development Department, said the emirate is keen to position itself as an ideal destination for tourism.
In the recent past, it took a host of initiatives including Ajman Run 2018, Flyboard Championship and Jet Ski Marathon. It also showed its heritage sites such as Ajman Museum, the Ajman Fish Market and the upcoming 'Heritage District' project.
During the first 9 months, Ajman witnessed 13 per cent increase in guest numbers and Dh242 million revenues from tourism and hospitality sector.
Feras Al Sadek, head of marketing, Grand Millennium Dubai, said not only does he see growth in the UAE market especially Dubai in terms of number of tourist coming in to the country but also the type of tourist coming from different regions around the world.
"All of the emirates are working together to create an overall destination, with each emirate supporting each other," he said.
Will stronger dirham affect UAE tourism source markets?
Strengthening dirham against the currency of key source markets could put the UAE's tourism market at a disadvantage as compared to other competing destinations, an analyst said.
"To a degree, yes. This is dependent on two factors, competing destinations with better value propositions and on the strength of the source markets currency relative to the UAE dirham," said Christopher Lund, head of hotels at Colliers International Mena,
Commenting on the impact of stronger dirham from its main sourcing markets, he said tourists travelling for the three S's - Sun, Sand and Sea - tend to travel where they can obtain the best value for money.
"At the moment Egypt is increasingly competing for this segment with the UAE, as the devaluation of the Egyptian pound - along with a period of stabilisation in the country - have created an attractive value proposition for sun-seeking tourists. This has resulted in the return of the traditional Western and Eastern European source markets which may have displaced some portion of visitation to the UAE," he said.
He pointed out that visitation from India and China makes up an increasing portion of overall tourism in the UAE and the relative strength of the dirham to the Indian rupee or Chinese yuan may impact the number of individuals with the discretionary income needed to travel.

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