Russian tourists return to Ras Al Khaimah as rouble steadies

Russian tourists are heading back to Ras Al Khaimah in larger numbers as the rouble stabilises.

Visitors from Russia edged up 4.2 per cent during the first eight months of the year compared to the same period last year, according to Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), which promoted the destination at the four-day Leisure Moscow trade fair that concluded on Saturday.

Russia remains the emirate’s top source market after Germany and the UK.

A stabilising economy has resulted in the rouble strengthening by more than 22 per cent to 64.07 roubles per dollar on Friday from a low of 82.44 roubles reached on January 21. The price of oil, Russia’s key source of revenues, has risen to close to US$46 per barrelon Friday from a low of $27.88 a barrel reached in January. Ratings agency S&P Global revised its forecast for the Russian economy to stable from negative this month. External risks to Russia’s economic growth have eased and the economy should return to growth in the coming years, it said. S&P expects Russia’s real GDP growth at 1.6 per cent on average in 2017-19.

“The importance of Russian visitors can be clearly seen by their average length of stay at 8.6 days, and room revenue which, at a growth of 10 per cent over same period last year, surpasses that of all other nationalities,” said Haitham Mattar, the RAKTDA chief executive. “There is still a strong interest and need for year-round value-for-money destinations within a short flight time of Russia, and we are working closely with our travel agent and airline partners, such as Qatar Airways, since it began flying to Ras Al Khaimah, Emirates airline, Air Arabia and flydubai.”

RAKTDA partners with Russian tour operators and travel agencies such as Coral, Natalie Tours and Space Travel to promote the destination. To ramp up the numbers from Russian-speaking countries, it appointed a sales agency for Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States in June.

The emirate reported an increase in tourist numbers from Kazakhstan, which recorded a 214.6 per cent rise during the first eight months compared to a year earlier. RAKTDA also expects to attend the Kazakhstan International Tourism Fair in April.

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