SARNGA DHARAN NAMBIAR –
Best Tourist Destination in the Arab Region Award, Favourite Road-Trip Destination Award, successful hosting of Ironman 70.3 championship, Must-See recommendations by National Geographic and Lonely Planet, coveted spot on the top travel destination list for 2019 published by the Financial Times and the CNN Travel. Exciting times, indeed, for the Sultanate.
When was the last time we heard someone saying in a sinking voice that “…but compared with its more flashy neighbour, Oman is kind of unknown…”? For sure, those disturbing epithets that spawned negative vibes about Oman’s tourism sector have become ridiculously redundant.
The Sultanate, with its awe-inspiring features, is fast emerging as one of the most sought after tourism destinations not just in the Arab region, but globally.
Just a few days back, the Sultanate bagged the Go Asia Award for the Best Tourist Destination in the Arab Region, based on a survey among 3,000 officials from Germany’s travel and tourism industry. The survey voted Oman as the best tourist destination that is highly preferred by the travel and tourism agencies and institutions in Germany. Earlier, Oman had won the second and third Best Tourist Destination in the Arab Region Awards. These recognitions underscore the significance of the German (and European) tourism market for the Sultanate and also the efficacy of the Sultanate’s tourism promotion activities in Europe.
Another recent achievement for the Sultanate’s amazing tourism potential came in the form of the ‘Favourite Road-Trip Destination’ award at the Conde Nast Traveler Middle East Readers’ Choice Awards 2018-19, the Middle East and North Africa region’s premier travel industry awards held in Dubai. The premium luxury and lifestyle travel magazine noted that few countries in the region offer quite the level of landscape diversity, warm hospitality and historical sightseeing opportunities as Oman.
The winner was chosen after a six-month voting process in which readers and consumers of the brand in the Gulf ticked their top choices across categories such as destinations, hotels, airlines, airports, cruises and travel organisations.
Apart from boosting the morale of the Sultanate’s tourism industry and helping to better tourism revenues, such international recognitions go a long way in attracting global investments in the Sultanate’s tourism and hospitality sectors.
The rush of visitors at the Sultanate’s pavilion at the ongoing ITB Berlin is a good omen, and clearly points at the gaining popularity of Oman as a fulfilling tourism destination that offers unique travel experiences to discerning tourists who look for genuine cultural elements, among other things. Oman’s Ministry of Tourism and Oman Airports Management Company, as well as all the major destination management companies, travel and tour operators, hotels and resorts from the Sultanate are participating in the ITB Berlin 2019, considered as the world’s largest travel trade show.
Promoting the Sultanate through the tagline ‘Beauty has an address’, the focus of Oman’s Tourism Ministry is to highlight the country’s superb natural splendour, unique heritage elements, state-of-the-art shopping facilities and high-adrenaline adventure options as the major tourism products the country offers to international visitors.
Oman’s exhibitor profile at ITB Berlin sums up the essence of the land endearingly referred to as the Jewel of Arabian Peninsula, and starts off as: ‘Oman is special; this is where the first rays of sunlight touch Arabia. It forms the Arabian Peninsula, has a coastline exceeding 3,000 km, is home to some of Arabia’s highest mountains and largest moving deserts. Its cultural, heritage and natural values make it a compelling destination’.
Meanwhile, Oman has had its first ever Ironman 70.3 championship, one of the world’s toughest athletic championships, last week with the participation of over 1,000 athletes from across 54 countries, which underlines the Sultanate’s growing stature as a major adventure sports destination.
From here we move on to romantic adventures. We can’t agree more if people feel romance in the air of the Sultanate. Oman’s appeal as the choicest wedding and destination is increasing. The serenity and spellbinding charm of nature at its mystical best, the rich and diverse Arabian
heritage and superlative hospitality and tourism infrastructure all add to its attraction as a top romantic destination. The Ministry of Tourism’s efforts at promoting the country as an ideal wedding destination in the potential markets of India, Europe and GCC countries seem to be bearing fruit.
Leaving behind the ‘relative obscurity’, the Sultanate now has a strong presence on the global tourism map. But that doesn’t mean the ‘charm of the unexplored’ is gone: every visit to Oman could reveal an entirely new aspect and experience. Therein lies the magic.