1,200 students set to become tourism envoys

MUSCAT, Dec 20 – More than 1,200 Omanis studying abroad have expressed interest in becoming ‘Envoys of Tourism’ and sharing knowledge of Oman’s tourist attractions with international friends as part of the Ministry of Tourism’s ‘Ta’la’ programme.
The students, currently on holidays, vowed on Wednesday to represent Oman on the international arena, at an event held under the auspices of Maitha al Mahrouqiyah, Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism.
“This is a milestone for Oman tourism as more than 1,200 overseas students have volunteered to represent their country abroad and create an awareness among societies there,” Al Mahrouqiyah said.
Shahla Khalfan al Jadeedi from Al Dakhiliyah, a student of Digital Communication and Social Media at UTS Sydney, said: “I feel proud to be representing my country abroad.
Thanks to the Ministry of Tourism and other authorities for giving an opportunity to become a tourism representative.”
‘Ta’la’ is a voluntary service, the idea for which came from students studying abroad some four years ago. The ministry has roped in Mwasalat for promoting Oman as a tourist destination.
Students from various parts of the country toured the capital on Mwasalat buses in this regard.
“We are liaising with the students currently studying abroad as well as those who want to study overseas.
Instead of hypothetically living in a country and studying there, we want them to feel the same experiences again before they share their knowledge with their international peers,” Maitha said.

More than 50 Omani international students’ committees in Australia, UK, US and other destinations have worked out their approach. They will be spearheading the campaign abroad. “Being tourism envoys, we have a bigger role to play and it’s a way we should carry and share with our friends abroad. We should promote Oman’s policies and other attractions,” said Al Geith al Harthy, a graduate student of Criminology and Politics at the University of Manchester Metropolitan in the United Kingdom.
The ministry has left no stone unturned in imparting knowledge and creating awareness about tourism opportunities for visitors and receiving their feedback so that improvements can be made.
The students will also promote public transport here the way they experience abroad.
“We are supporting students who are currently studying abroad as well as those who want to pursue careers overseas, with our buses taking them along major tourist destinations in the capital,” said Eng Mohammed Salim al Ghafri, Acting General-Manager-Corporate Support.
Manal al Maawali, a Business Administration and Cyber-Security student at Macqurie University in Sydney, said she had always been promoting her country abroad but with this initiative, the campaign has taken a “systematic look”.
“I have always been talking about the tourist attractions in my country with my friends in Australia and they are quite impressed.
With ‘Ta’la’, the efforts have a systematic approach which will bear fruit in the near future,” Manal added.
The initiative is supported by Ministry of Higher Education, Mwasalat, National Youth Committee, National Center for Vocational Guidance and Digital Oman.

KABEER YOUSUF