Oman sets sights on tourism market

Muscat, Oman – In the quiet Gulf of mexico state of Oman, blue-collar workers are busy building new international airports, hotels and a convention centre, within a push to boost tourism as the government reduces its reliance on essential oil revenues.

As well as the ongoing construction of world-class resorts and resorts, infrastructure projects within the aviation, road, rail and maritime sectors include a new passenger terminal at the Muscat International Airport, with an expected capacity of 12 million people annually.

Within 2013, oil accounted for 72 % of Oman’s government revenue, yet Sultan Qaboos bin Said programs to make tourism a key piece of the country’s economic picture. Last year, travel and leisure contributed 6. 4 percent in order to Oman’s GDP, and that figure can be expected to reach 8. 2 % by 2024, according to new information released by the World Travel and Tourism Council.


Ghasi Humaid al-Hashmi, the deputy director general of tourism promotion with Oman’s Ministry of Travel and leisure, said the report reflects a “booming” sector. “The growth within the travel and tourism sector will even result in the creation of more job opportunities in the sector, thus boosting chances of employment for Omanis, which will definitely have a positive impact on the country’s economy, ” al-Hashmi told Al Jazeera.



plan, which outlines the aims from 2011-2015, allocates $14. 7m to projects carried out by Omran, a company set up with the Omani government to manage assets and investments in the tourism sector. Currently this year, two five-star hotels possess opened – the Salalah Rotana Beach Resort in the southern port city of Salalah, and the mountaintop Alila Jabal Akhdar boutique hotel.

Omran’s CEO, Wael al-Lawati, told Al Jazeera that growth in Oman’s tourism industry is proceeding at a good rate. Up to 41, 1000 jobs are expected to be created within the tourism sector by the end of 2014, and while the government aims to have twelve million visitors by 2020 : up from 2 . 1 mil in 2013 – al-Lawati would like to ensure their value is maximised.

“Growth should not just be looked at from a good arrivals numbers point of view, but from a yields point of view, ” he mentioned. “If we’re able to extend the stay of the visitors, basically lure them to spend more in the country, that has a much better impact than trying to chase more people coming in. ”

Oman has many historical and cultural sites to draw in tourists – old forts, castles, villages and markets – but they could be better packaged, and generally there remains a need for family-oriented enjoyment, al-Lawati said.

Sheikh Hamood Bin Sultan al-Hosani, the CEO of Saraya Bandar Jissah, a tourist complicated that will have two five-star resorts, residential units, restaurants, wedding services and sports facilities, told Al Jazeera that Oman offers an ideal environment for tourism investment, thank you in part to its political and economic stability. “Taken in conjunction with a progressive policy to advance travel and leisure and encourage the development of its distinctive geography and topography, [this] makes Oman one of the best local investment opportunities, ” he mentioned.



RELATED: Iran hopes to unlock travel and leisure potential



The government’s push for travel and leisure is attracting international hoteliers, but it is also benefiting small local travel and leisure companies. Anwar al-Jabri, owner of Golden Oryx Tours and Sama al-Wasil Camp, said the number of customers he receives is growing all the time as well as the nationalities are becoming more diverse amid the Ministry of Tourism’s international advertising campaigns. “It takes time but it’s paying off. It’s not as fast as I’d like, yet it’s working, ” he mentioned.

Among the challenges Oman now faces is how to maintain a continuing flow of tourists throughout the summertime. The southern governorate of Dhofar has a rainy monsoon season through June to August that draws in tourists from the GCC, but temperatures sometimes hit 50c around Muscat, Nizwa and the Sharqiyah Sands, removing European tourists.

Al-Jabri says there is great potential to build up integrated tourism complexes in the hills, which can be 20 to 30 levels cooler than Muscat in the summer, and along the southern coast, which has a large number of kilometres of undeveloped beaches along with moderate summer temperatures thanks to the monsoon winds.

“Go along the coast and do more, ” al-Jabri said, relaxing on a couch in a popular shisha cafe in central Muscat. “That will change the dynamics of tourism in Oman. ”


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Muscat, Oman – In the quiet Gulf of mexico state of Oman, blue-collar workers are busy building new international airports, hotels and a convention centre, within a push to boost tourism as the government reduces its reliance on essential oil revenues.

As well as the ongoing construction of world-class resorts and resorts, infrastructure projects within the aviation, road, rail and maritime sectors include a new passenger terminal at the Muscat International Airport, with an expected capacity of 12 million people annually.

Within 2013, oil accounted for 72 % of Oman’s government revenue, yet Sultan Qaboos bin Said programs to make tourism a key piece of the country’s economic picture. Last year, travel and leisure contributed 6. 4 percent in order to Oman’s GDP, and that figure can be expected to reach 8. 2 % by 2024, according to new information released by the World Travel and Tourism Council.


Ghasi Humaid al-Hashmi, the deputy director general of tourism promotion with Oman’s Ministry of Travel and leisure, said the report reflects a “booming” sector. “The growth within the travel and tourism sector will even result in the creation of more job opportunities in the sector, thus boosting chances of employment for Omanis, which will definitely have a positive impact on the country’s economy, ” al-Hashmi told Al Jazeera.



plan, which outlines the aims from 2011-2015, allocates $14. 7m to projects carried out by Omran, a company set up with the Omani government to manage assets and investments in the tourism sector. Currently this year, two five-star hotels possess opened – the Salalah Rotana Beach Resort in the southern port city of Salalah, and the mountaintop Alila Jabal Akhdar boutique hotel.

Omran’s CEO, Wael al-Lawati, told Al Jazeera that growth in Oman’s tourism industry is proceeding at a good rate. Up to 41, 1000 jobs are expected to be created within the tourism sector by the end of 2014, and while the government aims to have twelve million visitors by 2020 : up from 2 . 1 mil in 2013 – al-Lawati would like to ensure their value is maximised.

“Growth should not just be looked at from a good arrivals numbers point of view, but from a yields point of view, ” he mentioned. “If we’re able to extend the stay of the visitors, basically lure them to spend more in the country, that has a much better impact than trying to chase more people coming in. ”

Oman has many historical and cultural sites to draw in tourists – old forts, castles, villages and markets – but they could be better packaged, and generally there remains a need for family-oriented enjoyment, al-Lawati said.

Sheikh Hamood Bin Sultan al-Hosani, the CEO of Saraya Bandar Jissah, a tourist complicated that will have two five-star resorts, residential units, restaurants, wedding services and sports facilities, told Al Jazeera that Oman offers an ideal environment for tourism investment, thank you in part to its political and economic stability. “Taken in conjunction with a progressive policy to advance travel and leisure and encourage the development of its distinctive geography and topography, [this] makes Oman one of the best local investment opportunities, ” he mentioned.



RELATED: Iran hopes to unlock travel and leisure potential



The government’s push for travel and leisure is attracting international hoteliers, but it is also benefiting small local travel and leisure companies. Anwar al-Jabri, owner of Golden Oryx Tours and Sama al-Wasil Camp, said the number of customers he receives is growing all the time as well as the nationalities are becoming more diverse amid the Ministry of Tourism’s international advertising campaigns. “It takes time but it’s paying off. It’s not as fast as I’d like, yet it’s working, ” he mentioned.

Among the challenges Oman now faces is how to maintain a continuing flow of tourists throughout the summertime. The southern governorate of Dhofar has a rainy monsoon season through June to August that draws in tourists from the GCC, but temperatures sometimes hit 50c around Muscat, Nizwa and the Sharqiyah Sands, removing European tourists.

Al-Jabri says there is great potential to build up integrated tourism complexes in the hills, which can be 20 to 30 levels cooler than Muscat in the summer, and along the southern coast, which has a large number of kilometres of undeveloped beaches along with moderate summer temperatures thanks to the monsoon winds.

“Go along the coast and do more, ” al-Jabri said, relaxing on a couch in a popular shisha cafe in central Muscat. “That will change the dynamics of tourism in Oman. ”

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