Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) was named a gold winner by the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) for the ‘2018 Affiliate Tourist Office of the Year’ category during its annual general meeting in London. RAKTDA won the top accolade of Gold ahead of other winners which included Silver – Spanish Tourist Office and Bronze – South African Tourism.
AITO is an umbrella organisation that represents around 120 of the UK’s specialist and independent tour operators. AITO, The Specialist Travel Association, provides its members with guidelines to ensure that travel benefits host communities, respect local cultures, protect the environment and conserve natural resources.
Commenting on the recognition, Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority said: “We are incredibly pleased to receive this prestigious accolade from AITO which has been an incredible strategic partner for many years. Our ties with AITO in the UK market are stronger than ever and we remain committed to working closely with the association and its members in the future. The Gold Award is a testimony of RAKTDA’s increased presence in the UK and intensified destination promotion in the market; the UK continues to be one of Ras Al Khaimah’s top key international source markets. We aim to increase the number of UK visitors to the Emirate by 20% in 2019 through amplified marketing and trade partnerships.”
Executive Director of AITO, Kate Kenward, says: “We are very pleased to be able to acknowledge the services and support provided by our Affiliate Business Partners and Tourist Offices, whose contribution to AITO is highly regarded by both our tour operators and travel agents. We now have over 13,000 independent customer feedback comments on AITO.com and it is becoming the go-to place for information and ideas on our specialist tour operators and their vast array of holiday experiences.”
Last year, RAKTDA announced a partnership with The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO), on project PROTECT – an initiative carried out in partnership with the University of Surrey – as the official sustainable Tourism Sponsor for 2018-2019. Project PROTECT (People, Resources Outreach, Tourism, Environment, Conservation, Tomorrow) was created to help encourage and guide members to adopt better practices in sustainable tourism and to focus on environmental protection in the areas their customers visit.
Additionally, AITO’s annual overseas conference was held in Ras Al Khaimah in November 2018 and welcomed more than 120 of the UK’s top specialist travel companies to the UAE’s northern Emirate introducing them to the destination with its diverse and spectacular offering.
The UK market accounted for 63,054 visitors in 2018, with a growth of 11.5 per cent from the previous year – making it as the third largest source market for Ras Al Khaimah.