Holidayers prefer Oman than fly away

MUSCAT, Nov 29 – Unlike in the past, citizens and residents alike are now shunning short holiday trips abroad. Instead, they want to spend them on home soil. It’s not just that prices for such trips have escalated, but many want to save money in view of the economic uncertainties. While a number of citizens and residents that the Observer spoke to expressed their preference to spend holidays in Oman, airline operators said there has not been any unusual rush except that of the season. “Going abroad for short holidays doesn’t make sense. Moreover, why to go out when we have all the elements of attraction, including a myriad of recreational places to spend the holidays here in our country,” asks Jasim al Ismaili, an executive with a leading public sector company.

It is good to see that the Omani government is doing everything that the holiday-makers want, he said. At the same time, travel industry experts said that many people opt to stay back due to security issues coupled with the onset of winter in some European countries. According to information from airline industry, there has not been any rise in the number of people booking for overseas travel to spend the upcoming five-day holiday period. “Compared with the previous years, we cannot say there is an increase in the number of people travelling abroad for the national holidays. But there are bookings,” said Wasim Zaidi, general manager, Jet Airways, Oman.

The country manager of another leading airline said that the present rush for bookings is part of the upcoming holiday season. “Except for some people in the higher income bracket, others prefer to stay back and spend the holidays here. Most of the present bookings are for the forthcoming Christmas vacation,” he said. Most Indian schools close for mid-year break before Christmas, leading to a rush of passengers and fares. Health experts recommend that shorter holidays be spent in the home country to avoid travel blues that can have a big impact on the jobs.

“Short holidays are good for people to rejuvenate themselves. They can visit places of traditional importance and spend time with their family members. But travelling abroad for holidays needs more days,” said Dr Javed Ansari, a physician. From the rugged majestic mountains to the vast deserts or sandy beaches, Oman has a variety of attractions in its fold. People can also engage in numerous adventure activities such as snorkelling, kite-surfing to kayaking and dune bashing.

SAMUEL KUTTY