Ras Al Khaimah Adventure Travel & Sports Innovation Challenge

Ras Al Khaimah Adventure Travel & Sports Innovation Challenge

Participants are invited to develop a strategy for a sporting event that will draw adventure travel enthusiasts to Ras Al Khaimah. Read Overview...
US$5,000 prize and all expenses paid trip for two


 The George Washington University International Institute of Tourism Studies and the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority are Co-Sponsoring a Contest for participants from higher education, outdoor recreation organizations or sporting groups. Winner Receives a Cash Prize of US $5,000 and Free Trip to the United Arab Emirates


Mile-long zip-lining, desert mountain biking, Bedouin camping, Arabian sea wakeboarding. Ras Al Khaimah is a hub of outdoor adventure activities.  The northernmost United Arab Emirate offers unparalleled—and unspoiled—opportunities for thrill-seeking visitors. But beyond the region, adventure travelers are largely unfamiliar with the destination’s exciting offerings. To change that, the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority and The George Washington University International Institute of Tourism Studies are enlisting students, youth and millennials in a marketing challenge aimed at attracting more thrill-seeking vacationers.

Why Adventure Tourism Events?

Because relatively small-scale adventure sporting events can produce major economic benefits for host communities. Not only do they attract contestants, but the infrastructure required to support the events draw other adventure-seeking travelers and local people.

The Challenge:

Develop a strategy for an adventure sports event that will bring adventure travel enthusiasts to Ras Al Khaimah and raise its profile as a leading adventure destination. Examples include triathlons, endurance road races and desert marathons.

The Prize:

A US$5,000 cash prize and free trip for two participants to Ras Al Khaimah. The winning team will present their proposal at a Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority event celebrating World Tourism Day on September 27, 2018.

The Particulars:

Teams from higher education institutions, outdoor recreation organizations or sports groups will develop strategies designed to engage sponsors or planners of a single or series of adventure sports competitions. In addition to identifying a possible event, participants should submit ideas for how the event could attract media attention, adventure and sport influencers, and event contestants and spectators. Proposals should also include the following:

  • The goal of hosting the event
  • Description of one or more signature adventure events that could be hosted on a recurring basis
  • Sponsorship opportunities
  • Social media strategy and influencers
  • Earned and paid media placements in targeted publications and online sites

Submission Format:

Proposal should include two formats:

  • Video pitch in under three minutes
  • Written description of competition strategy (5,000 words max.)

The written and video pitch should include the following:

  • The idea for the adventure sports competition
  • An explanation of why it will work based on market research
  • Specific action plan and budget
  • Metrics to measure success
  • Anticipated results

First Steps:

  1. Click "Follow the Challenge" above to be notified of any status updates to the challenge.
  2. Click "Yes Sign Me Up!" above to register for the challenge. You will be notified of any status updates and be able to create an entry to the challenge when it opens.
  3. Click on the "Share" button or social media icons above to share this challenge with your friends, your family, or anyone you know who has a passion for discovery.
  4. Leave a comment in our Comments Thread to join the conversation, ask questions or connect with other innovators.

Additional Rules

Who can participate:

The Challenge is open to participants from university undergraduate or graduate programs, outdoor recreation organizations  or sports groups based anywhere in the world. You may enter as a team of two to four people. Participants should obtain support from a mentor, who may be a university instructor or a tourism practitioner. Contestants must comply with all the terms of the Challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement.

Selection of Winner:

Winning team will be awarded a cash prize of US $5,000 and free trip to Ras Al Khaimah for two participants to attend the Ras Al Khaimah World Tourism Day Celebration on September 27th. (Trip includes airfare, hotel, and meals).

In case of a tie, the winner will be selected at the discretion of the judging panel.

Registration and Submissions:

All teams must be registered by April 30, 2018 to be eligible. No registrations will be accepted after this date and no changes to teams may be made after this date.

All team submission materials must be submitted online on or before July 31, 2018. No submissions will be accepted after this date. Incomplete submissions will not be accepted. All submissions must be received online, via the Challenge website, and all uploads can be in PDF format only. Submission reporting requirements are detailed in judging.

Challenge Guidelines are subject to change. Registered competitors will receive notification when changes are made. However, we highly encourage you to visit the Challenge site often to review updates.

Updates 10


Aug. 16, 2018, 12:13 p.m. PDT by GW International Institute of Tourism Studies

The submissions are in and judging is complete! Thank you all for your participation.


Special thanks go out to our distinguished judges: Casey Hanisko, President, Adventure Travel Trade Association; Jim McCaul, Vice President of Destination Development and Advocacy, Destinations International; Jamie Sweeting, Vice President for Social Enterprise & Sustainability, G Adventures; and, Samantha Hogenson Bray, Managing Director, Center for Responsible Travel (CREST). These judges critiqued the submissions in four categories--creativity, quality, practicality, and impact--awarding a maximum of 100 points. The three teams that scored the highest will be traveling to Ras Al Khaimah to pitch their concepts, and compete for the grand prize of $5,000 at a World Tourism Day event.


On behalf of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, George Washington University International Institute of Tourism Studies, and our distinguished panel of judges, it gives us great pleasure to announce the top 3 finalists. Drum roll please…


The Top 3 Finalists are Temple Owls from Temple University, Global Citizens from George Washington University, and Trip Adventure from Hong Kong Polytechnic University.


We hope that you have benefited from your participation, and remember, even though the competition is over, we encourage you to find creative ways of supporting adventure travel in your destination.


Stay tuned for the announcement of this year's winner, and launch of the 2019 Tourism Innovation Challenge!

Judging Criteria

July 25, 2018, 11:20 a.m. PDT by GW International Institute of Tourism Studies

Greetings Innovators!


Below is the judging criteria that was shared at today's webinar. 



Is the strategy for the adventure sports event and video creative original, while maintaining Ras Al Khaimah’s brand identity? Is the event interesting and innovative?



Is the strategy for the adventure sports event and video presented in an organized, coherent and professional manner? Is the entry complete? (video link provided and all questions answered)



How does the strategy and proposed event raise awareness of Ras Al Khaimah? Does it reach target audience, i.e. adventure travelers? What is the breadth of impact?



Is the strategy substantiated, well-reasoned, realistic? Does it incorporate justified assumptions, design, and conclusions?  Does it sound like it could work technically, financially, conceptually?






July 23, 2018, 2:31 p.m. PDT by GW International Institute of Tourism Studies

We are pleased to announce additional prizes for the Ras Al Khaimah Adventure Travel & Sports Innovation Challenge! The TOP 3 TEAMS will now have their travel paid to Ras Al Khaimah, in order to pitch their idea in front of an international judging panel on World Tourism Day on September 27, 2018! If you have any questions, please contact us at steph248_msu@gwmail.gwu.edu. 




July 16, 2018, 5:59 p.m. PDT by GW International Institute of Tourism Studies

Greetings Innovators,


As your teams are hard at work putting together your plans for the Ras Al Khaimah Adventure Travel & Sports Innovation Challenge, we hope you'll join us for a final webinar on Wednesday, July 25. This webinar will be used to ensure proposals are on target to meet the challenge requirements, and answer any final questions you should you have. If you have any questions before the 25th, please don't hesitate to reach out to me.


Please register here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/b31f7a1bd9d006b434538d7d4481ef37 . After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Have a Wonderful Week!

Intrepid Adventure Travel Index

June 19, 2018, 8:47 a.m. PDT by GW International Institute of Tourism Studies

Greetings Innovators,


Intrepid Travel has launched its inaugural Adventure Travel Index challenging dated stereotypes of adventure travelers and redefining the growing sector within the tourism industry. Check out this report in the resource section of HeroX.


Have a Wonderful Week,


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