Haitham Mattar, CEO of RAKTDA said: “World Tourism Day is an annual UNWTO organised event, which aims to promote responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. As well as marking the celebrations with an informative and insightful conference, we decided to go a step further this year and put words into action.
This code was developed by the European Network of Accessible Tourism (ENAT) – represented at the Conference by one of our keynote speakers Ivor Ambrose. Over the next three years, we will commence the journey to honour our commitment to this code by establishing accessible tourism products and practices in the emirate.”
The half-day UAE World Tourism Day Conference, under the patronage of HH Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, included a keynote address from His Excellency Mohammad Al Muhairi, Undersecretary to UAE Minister of Economy, who spoke about the important contribution of tourism to Ras Al Khaimah and the UAE.
RAKTDA reported double-digit growth in visitor numbers for the first nine months of this year, largely stimulated by a significant growth during the traditionally low summer season. Visitor arrivals to Ras Al Khaimah’s hotels increased by 10.4 per cent between January and September of this year when compared to the same nine-month period in 2015. Between June and August 2016, Ras Al Khaimah’s hotels reported an increased occupancy of 15.9 per cent compared to the same period in 2015.
As well as discussing issues and developments within accessible tourism and matters that strengthen Ras Al Khaimah’s and the UAE’s tourism propositions, the conference addressed the key needs of family and elderly travellers, aligning with UNWTO’s World Tourism Day which was marked earlier this week – under the theme ‘Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility.’
Topics explored included: how to make tourism destinations and products accessible to disabled travellers, elderly travellers with reduced mobility, and families with small children. The potential of wellness tourism was discussed as the percentage of the mature travelling population continues to grow.