AITO announces conference to be held in the Middle East

July 4, 2018 | AITO – Association of Independent Tour Operators


The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO, has announced that it will be heading to the Middle East for its annual conference, to be held from 22 – 25 November, 2018. 

AITO Chairman, Derek Moore, says: “For 2018 we wanted to steer a middle path. In 2016 our conference was built around the world-famous icon that is Petra; in 2017 we headed for the Alentejo, a little-known region of Portugal. Both conference destinations proved highly successful, so for 2018 we debated whether the conference should be held somewhere iconic or somewhere unknown. Instead, we have chosen to offer a Tale of the Unexpected.

“The United Arab Emirates (UAE) comprises seven Emirates of which the most familiar are, arguably, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Just 45 minutes’ drive from the bustle of Dubai International Airport lies the unexpected – and less well-known – surprise that is Ras Al Khaimah, or RAK, as it is referred to locally.

“Like many Gulf States, Ras Al Khaimah features year-long sunshine, inviting white-sand beaches and spectacular terracotta desert landscapes. However, in contrast to the fast pace and bright lights of its neighbours, this northern-most Emirate offers a more laid-back vibe, fewer high-rise developments, the highest mountains in the UAE, and a variety of exciting activities, along with a history and culture spanning 7,000 years.


“We’re thrilled to have been invited by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourist Development Authority (RAK TDA). It is particularly exciting for AITO members to visit such a fascinating destination that is on the cusp of change in terms of tourism. We are also pleased to be flying with Emirates to the conference – its vast network of airports in the UK will make travel to Ras Al Khaimah so convenient for our members who are spread across the country.”

Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority comments: “We are delighted to host the AITO overseas conference in Ras Al Khaimah this year. With our world class resorts both on our beautiful coastline and inland and abundance of cultural events and outdoor adventure pursuits, we believe that Ras Al Khaimah will be an entirely new and interesting destination for delegates to experience, and one that offers a truly authentic taste of the UAE.”

Chair of AITO Specialist Travel Agents, Gemma Antrobus, comments: “This is a destination with enormous potential for AITO Specialist Travel Agents, who are always on the lookout for somewhere a little different from the mainstream. It offers the perfect balance of beach, activity, history and culture, providing the variety that many of our discerning clients seek and that AITO Agents enjoy selling!”

AITO delegates will fly in to Dubai and transfer to their accommodation in the centre of Ras Al Khaimah, choosing either the five-star Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa overlooking the beach, or the recently-remodelled four-star Hilton Garden Inn – also the setting for the conference – which is slightly closer to the town and offers views across the inland waterway.

AITO’s overseas conference is aimed at business owners and senior managers, whether they’re running a travel agency or a tour operation, as well as Affiliate Business Partners and Tourist Offices. Featuring a mixture of inspiring speakers and breakout events, the business sessions aim to provide a thought-provoking day and a half, interlinked with evening events at exciting local venues.


Touring options in Ras Al Khaimah are plentiful. For adrenalin junkies, there’s the opportunity to fly the longest zipline in the world (an incredible 2.83 km in length) on Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest mountain, go kayaking on the inland waterways, or take advantage of the desert setting and try dune bashing!

For nature lovers there’s the Al Wadi Nature Reserve, where it’s possible to see camels, many species of bird and the Arabian oryx. Those looking for authentic experiences may wish to soak up the sights, sounds and smells of the old town, with its souks, fish market, archaeological sites and mangrove creek.

Whichever options delegates choose, this year’s conference is sure to showcase exceptionally well this exciting, diverse and up-and-coming holiday destination.

For more information on AITO’s 120-plus specialist travel companies and their unrivalled collection of holiday ideas, covering every corner of the world, visit the website at

All AITO members are fully bonded, comply with AITO’s Quality Charter and aim to offer the best possible customer service.

For more information on AITO or AITO Specialist Travel Agents, or for high-res photos, please contact Sue Ockwell or Jackie Franklin on 020 8891 4440 or email or

About Ras Al Khaimah

One of the world’s fastest growing tourism destinations, Ras Al Khaimah boasts a rich culture and long-standing history dating back 7,000 years. The Emirate boasts an array of archaeological sites and breath-taking natural vistas, from golden sand beaches, awe-inspiring terracotta dunes and a green belt of date palms to Jebel Jais, the highest mountain in the UAE.

To learn more about Ras Al Khaimah, visit us at:

About Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (TDA)

The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (TDA) was established in May 2011 under the government of Ras Al Khaimah. In order to achieve target growth of one million visitors by the end of 2018, the authority aims to develop the emirate’s tourism infrastructure and establish Ras Al Khaimah as a world-class destination for leisure and business travel, creating sustainable investment opportunities and enhancing the quality of life for its residents. In order to achieve its goals, the Ras Al Khaimah TDA has a government mandate to license, regulate and monitor the emirate’s tourism and hospitality industry.

Follow Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority on twitter: @RAKTourism