Kabeer Yousuf –
With the extremely beautiful climate complemented by cool breeze and a misty dawns descending upon the Sultanate, farm tourism, a highly potential sector but often overlooked at, is far gaining momentum as people venture out more often exploring outdoor destinations to spend quality time with their dear and near ones.
A large number of farms, mostly in Batinah Governorate, are packed with weekend day-long activities mostly for families and corporate clients, thanks to the homely feeling that these massive farms give to the guests.
These farms, obviously owned and run by locals, cater to the needs of their guests which mostly comprise expatriates from planning to arrangement to execution. While some farms take care of the food requirements, some laisse with outdoor catering agencies or hotels for catering.
“We had a birthday party last week at one of the farms in Barka where we hosted nearly 100 pax and catered by an outside hotel. It was an unforgettable day with loads of fun and games and above all, it was a perfect family reunion on a weekend”, Shahbaz Nasser and Rasha Ashraf, a recently married couple said
More than formal gatherings, these farms are catering to the ordinary people with bigger dreams of conducting family gatherings at minimal cost but better avenues of enjoyment, according to Said Moosa al Hasani, a farm owner.
“I think, farms are getting more popularity day by day firstly because they are cheaper, and secondly because of their informal set up where every single individual ,whether he is aged or a child, has something to explore and keep them busy”, Said said.
Underlining what he said, an average farm which would fetch its owner at least 200 Omani rials would have, besides an open area with half-shaded roofs, a kitchen area (not necessary), eating space, play area with children’s toys and other activities, swimming pool (size doesn’t really matter), changing rooms for privacy, washrooms separate for men and women and the like.
“The advantages of conducting a party or a gathering at one of these sprawling farms is a wonderful and cool concept to ponder”, says Rafa and Aysha Jasna.
“Such a gathering can help bond relations while offering a perfect day-long outing with family and friends and have some time away from the hustle bustle of daily life”, he adds.
Having said, farm tourism is not devoid of a drawback in the sense that it is taking away much of the business that the hotels in the country would have taken care.
“Certainly, farm tourism is taking away a great amount of business of hotels in the country for various reasons”, says Praveen, GM, Al Falaj Hotel, part of Atkin Spence Hotels.
“These farms offer packages much cheaper than the hotels in the city and they offer all-inclusive itinerary with lesser operational costs”, he adds.
But once the weather turns hotter and venturing outdoors would mean a wearisome activity, farm tourism wouldn’t be a highly income-yielding tourism avenue but given substantial support to SME’s to have outdoor cooling and the like, this sector can survive any season.
At a time when tourism is fast getting in the prime focus of the country, farm tourism can gain further reach and more people would certainly give it a thought before deciding on the venue of an informal gathering. Provided sufficient support is extended by the authorities, farm tourism will only prove to be yet another mode of tourism of international repute.