Las Vegas-style mega resort at RAK to push annual tourism visitors past 5 mln: Report

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A planned Las Vegas-style resort in the UAE city of Ras al-Khaimah could help attract over five million tourists, a report published on Tuesday said, two million visitors more than the expected number by 2030.

The white paper, published by Colliers International, said the resort - planned with Las Vegas hotel operator Wynn Resorts RAK – will be a “game changer” for the emirate, which is positioning itself as a sustainable and nature destination.

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An exterior view Wynn hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, US, February 7, 2018. (File photo: Reuters)
An exterior view Wynn hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, US, February 7, 2018. (File photo: Reuters)

It could propel annual visitors far past Ras al-Khaimah’s tourism goals, one of the fastest growing tourism markets in the Gulf region. RAK has previously outlined its goals to have three million annual visitors by 2030.

Colliers predicts that the mega resort could contribute to more than 5.5 million annual visitors to the emirate by 2030.

Wynn Resorts announced plans in 2022 to develop a multi-billion-dollar beachside resort in Ras al-Khaimah. It is slated to include 1,000 rooms and a “gaming” area, expected to open in 2026. Wynn is best known for its casino hotel resorts in Las Vegas, Boston and Macau.

“Ras al-Khaimah (RAK), the northern most emirate of the United Arab Emirates, has experienced rapid economic growth in recent years,” the Colliers report said. “With a mission to grow its number of tourist visitors and increase the overall attractiveness of the destination, Ras al-Khaimah’s tourism development authority’s vision for 2030 is to attract over three million visitors, explaining why tourism is one of the emirate’s most important economic sectors and focus for GDP growth.”

In 2022, the report found that 1.132 million overnight hotel guests visited RAK during the 12-month period, a 15.6 percent year-on-year growth. The visitors were predominately from Russia, followed by Kazakhstan and the UK.

In 2022, the hospitality sector saw an almost 30 percent increase on year-on-year revenues.

The Ras al-Khaimah Tourism Development Authority’s tourism strategy is responsible for accelerating visitor growth and raising the contribution of the sector to the emirate’s GDP, aiming to reach 3 million annual visitors by 2030.

In order to achieve its target, RAKTDA is implementing a host of strategies, including, multimillion dollar investments in Jebel Jais Projects and other investments from major players such as Aldar Properties, EMAAR, ADNH, and Nobu.

And Wynn Resorts will be the crown jewel, according to the report.

Based on an analysis which studied the impact of the opening of gaming facilities on visitation, and considering the characteristics of Ras al-Khaimah’s tourism, Colliers said it is envisioned that the Wynn Al Marjan Island will induce significant demand in its first year.

This is expected to be followed by a prolonged secondary growth period, lasting three years.

As a result, it is estimated that the city will welcome over 3.8 million visitors by 2027.

By 2030, it is envisioned that the city will be able to welcome over 5.5 million visitors, contingent upon the success of the Wynn Resort.

“The Ras al-Khaimah hospitality market consists of a mixture of assets including resorts, hotels, and serviced apartments. While most motels, serviced apartments and city hotels are located in close proximity to city center, resorts, which dominate the market, are typically located towards the South of the coastline as part of upcoming developments,” the report noted.

Of the total supply, just under 7,000 keys - a term referred to as a mixture of room, suites and serviced apartments - are considered quality supply, primarily falling within the 3-star to 5-star categories.

The hotel market is led by Hilton Worldwide, which currently operates over 2,900 keys.

Looking towards the future, approximately 5,000 keys have already been announced to open in the next five years, of which, a major entrant expected is Wynn Resort.

Colliers said that ‘integrated resorts’ like Wynn Resorts are designed to become destinations in their own right, attracting both domestic and international demand.

As the largest foreign direct investment in the emirate, Wynn Al Marjan Island Ras al-Khaimah aims to be a landmark property on with plans for over 1,200 hotel rooms, over 20,000 sqm of programmed retail and F&B space, and over 20,000 sqm of dedicated gaming facilities.

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