Undeterred by the global and regional slowdown in business, Ras Al Khaimah is moving forward with its projects and expansion plans in the tourism and hospitality sector, said an official of the emirate's tourism authority.
"We are neither delaying nor cancelling hospitality projects we had announced last year in Ras Al Khaimah; it is business as usual," Hilary McCormack, Manager of RAK Tourism, told Emirates Business.
"We know some areas in the UAE and the region are seeing a slowdown in business activities, but that does not mean it is the same case here. So we are completing whatever we started and we will deliver on time.
"Of course, this does not mean we are not aware of a business slowdown or an economic crisis in the world that might be having an effect here," she said. "And this is just making us slow down a little bit when we take decisions on fresh ideas and new projects."
RAK Tourism will participate in the International Tourism exhibition in Berlin and in the Moscow International Travel and Tourism exhibition that will take place in March, she said.
"Tourism, and all sectors related to it, is a significant spot in the economic growth of RAK and all hotels projects that operate under our umbrella will be open to business this year as they were previously, since we are keen on maintaining RAK – along with the UAE – as a favourite destination for travellers," said McCormack.
Hoteliers in the emirate echoed a similar buoyant sentiment. Maurice De Rooji, General Manager of the RAK Cove Rotana Hotel and Resort – a 202-room and 180-villa five-star property – said: "We are on schedule for the soft-launch of our first branch in RAK on February 1 and we are excited about it. Two months later, we will have a gala official launch.
"We had finalised all the plans to construct and complete the facility and there was no reason to stop. We believe tourists look for the kind of environment and facilities for leisure activities that we have here, which may not be available in other places in the UAE or even in the region. This attracts visitors from other countries in the region and from Europe."
Pascal Eppink, General Manager of the RAK Banyan Tree Hotel and Resort, agreed. "We are proceeding with our plans for the new launch that we will have by the end of summer this year."
A part of the hotel is located next to the beach, while other parts spread into the hill areas, Eppink said. The property will have a total of 101 villa-style units, he added. RAK is seen as a promising destination for tourists from the UAE or abroad.