Foreign tourists double, local visitors triple

MUSCAT, Dec 16 – In line with the projected value addition to Oman’s gross domestic product, the tourism sector has continuously been showing significant surge in its main indices. While inbound visitors have doubled in just under a decade in the period between 2005 and 2016, domestic tourists have more than tripled during the period. “The number of inbound tourists visiting the Sultanate has grown by around 40 per cent every half decade,” points out a report by the National Centre for Statistics and Information.
While the total number of visitors reached 1.1 million in 2005, it jumped to 1.5 million in 2010 and 3.2 million in 2016. Since 2005, the total number of inbound tourists has been growing by an annual growth of 10.03 per cent. With the total inbound tourism expenditure, totalling RO 319 million in 2016, a 10.3-per cent increase over RO 289.2 million in 2015, the average expenditure per visitor reached RO 101.2. “This is a significant increase of 11.1 per cent compared with 2009 when the total expenditure per visitor totalled RO 91.10.” However, it urges that if Oman is to increase tourism contribution to GDP, it must actively seek to attract more inbound tourists and from more diverse markets.
“Given the current geopolitical climate, Oman must not only market itself as a safe and tranquil destination, but also compete with other GCC states that are looking to boost their own share of tourism revenues,” the report says. GCC accounted for the majority of visitors at 49.6 per cent, followed by Asia with 20.7 per cent, Europe at 18.5 per cent, Arab nations with 5.9 per cent and another 5.4 per cent from other nations, mostly the Americas and Oceania. Overnight stays totalled 16.5 million nights, with an average of 7.2 nights per tourist. Out of the total RO 319 million in inbound expenditure, RO 82.8 million, or nearly 25.9 per cent, was derived from airline tickets; RO 118.8 million, or 37.3 per cent, from accommodation; RO 47.4 million, or 14.9 per cent, from food and beverages; RO 20.7 million, or 6.5 per cent, from internal transport; and RO 35.4 million, or 11.1 per cent, from shopping.

SAMUEL KUTTY