After the deep losses suffered by the global tourism industry during most of 2020, all major international destinations are hoping to resume welcoming visitors in order to boost their ailing sectors. Unfortunately, quite a few destinations are not quite ready to fully undertake the recovery process. Toronto, for example, is facing another summer of tourism uncertainty because the border with the United States remains closed as of late June 2021. Thailand continues to post concerning job losses in the hospitality sector because of increased contagion and lackluster vaccination campaigns.
The United Arab Emirates stands out as a destination that has been doing things right with regard to restarting its tourism economy. When we look at Dubai, for example, the statistics for the first quarter of 2021 are impressive: 1.26 million visitors and an average hotel occupancy of nearly 60%. The Emirates have accomplished this through strategic planning and healthy initiatives to mitigate coronavirus contagion.
The growth-minded Emirate of RAK, which is short for Ras Al Khaimah, was the first to be deemed a safe tourism destination by the Bureau Veritas at the height of the pandemic. The World Travel and Tourism Council has assigned a Safe Travel label to RAK, which became one of the world’s first recipients of this designation in the midst of the pandemic.
Post-Pandemic Vacations in the UAE
Dubai and the rest of the Emirates are not out of the pandemic yet; in mid-June, the average number of new COVID-19 cases was above 1,900 on a daily basis, but this should not discourage international travelers from planning a trip to the UAE this year. If anything, the efforts of UAE tourism officials to welcome tourists into a safe and highly hygienic destination should encourage travelers who wish to experience something different.
The travel advisories set by the UAE to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 have been especially designed to address the concerns of even the most health-conscious travelers. As previously mentioned, RAK made history when it completed the Safeguard Assurance program managed by Bureau Veritas, which calls for each and every hotel within the Emirate to be audited in terms of safety, health, and hygiene. Not to be outdone, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have followed suit.
The RAK Tourism Development Authority ensures that all visitors coming from abroad get free COVID-19 tests as long as they are staying in the Emirate for at least two nights. Test results can be ready as quickly as 12 hours, thus giving travelers plenty of time to make departure arrangements.
To say that international visitors are truly appreciated by the UAE would be an understatement, and this is especially the case in Ras Al Khaimah, where hospitality leaders strive to treat each visitor as a potential long-term resident who may one day choose to start a business or raise a family here. RAK tourism officials recently announced the implementation of a new program called SelectRAK, which aims to get the attention of travelers who may be interested in sustainable tourism or affordable luxury. According to statistics evaluated by RAK tourism officials, these tourists are the kind who would consider making their vacations more permanent.
The SelectRAK program is designed to showcase the ease of establishing a business presence in the Emirate, which has six free trade zones catering to several industries. Unlike other tourism destinations that focus solely on how much money they can make from visitors, RAK wants to show off its high quality of life and investment potential. As this program matures, select tourists will be able to start the process of applying for residency or setting up a business venture in RAK. The business advantages, which are numerous, include zero taxation on income and guaranteed ownership of business.
RAK has a lot to offer to just about every kind of traveler, but the visitors who stand to benefit the most are those who have yet to experience authentic Arabian hospitality. This part of the world was an ancient trading port where nomadic merchants used to arrive for the purpose of resting at oasis spots blessed with year-round comfortable temperatures at higher altitudes. To a great extent, RAK is keeping this ancient status alive in the wake of the pandemic.