Raki Phillips, an award-winning hospitality veteran, has been announced as the new chief executive of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.
Officials at the authority argue that his appointment marks the commencement of a new phase of tourism development for the emirate.
Phillips, who has worked for some of the world’s most renowned global brands, including Ritz-Carlton Hotels, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Universal Studios, will be responsible for delivering the authority’s recently announced Destination Strategy 2019-2021.
The plan aims to attract 1.5 million visitors to the emirate by 2021 and three million by 2025.
Phillips takes over the reins from Haitham Mattar, whose four-year tenure as chief executive of RAKTDA is credited with re-positioning Ras Al Khaimah to become one of the fastest growing destinations in the world and exceeding the target of one million visitors in the first three years.
Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, thanked Mattar for his commitment to the role and for his efforts in positioning the Emirate as one of the world’s fastest-growing tourism destinations.
“Mattar’s four years leading Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority has resulted in a tourism strategy that has grown the reputation of Ras Al Khaimah internationally and put the Emirate firmly on the world map.
“I would like to thank Haitham for his leadership of the authority and for presiding over a phase of tourism and hospitality development that has seen exceptional levels of growth.
“With his groundwork, we are very well placed to move forward to the next phase of development in our thriving tourism industry under Raki Phillips, who I welcome to his new role.”
RAKTDA’s first tourism strategy was launched in January 2016 and was responsible for accelerating visitor growth, increasing visitor satisfaction and raising the contribution of the tourist sector to the emirate’s GDP.
The strategy introduced new tourism demand generators, including the world’s longest zip line and the Middle East’s first via ferrata, both of which helped position Ras Al Khaimah as the region’s nature-based adventure hub.
Ras al Khaimah was also recognised as the Middle East’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination earlier this year by voters at the World Travel Awards.
As the new chief executive, Phillips will implement RAKTDA’s Destination Strategy 2019-2021 and supervise a number of key projects, with notable development projects on Jebel Jais including multiple zip lines, adventure park hiking trails, the Bear Grylls Survival Academy and a luxury camp.
Phillips himself has a long and storied history in the hospitality sector.
Over the past decade and a half, the veteran has worked for some of the most prestigious global brands, including Universal Studios Orlando, Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.
He was recently named one of the top 20 most powerful Arab hoteliers and has experience in a range of areas including sales, marketing, theme parks, revenue management and hotel development.
He has also had a hand in the development of culinary concepts such as Hard Rock Live Orlando, Noire, SoBe at Monte Carlo Beach Club Abu Dhabi and District47, Dubai’s highest rooftop at Warwick Hotel Sheikh Zayed Road.
Departing chief executive Haitham Mattar has been a familiar face on Breaking Travel News in recent years, having been interviewed a number of times.
Take a look below for his final words earlier this year: