SALALAH, Sept 6 – End of khareef (monsoon) heralds the beginning of winter season, which is season also for cruise and charter tourism in Salalah.
Though there are 24 more days to go for khareef as per official calendar, the tour operators and those associated with this segment of tourism have started preparing for the season.
According to Meeting Point, which handles most of the charter operations in Salalah, the 2016-17 was a robust season and the outlook for 2017-18 is even better with larger capacity flights in the pipeline.
Mostafa Hussein, General Manager of Meeting point Oman, sounded positive with confirmation of six weekly flights from Germany, Italy, Slovakia and Czech Republic.
“These are initial trends as we are expecting more bookings for the season that is to begin from October 17 till May 18. The first charter flight of the season is scheduled on October 17 with 180 mixed tourists from Slovakia and Czech Republic,” he said.
Though the number of charter flights is likely to reduce by half this season, the flow of tourist is to increase due to introduction of large flights on the route.
Last season a total of 108 charters brought more than 28,000 tourists from Germany, Italy, Slovakia and Czechoslovakia, while this season’s current outlook is 33,520 tourists in 56 charters from the same countries.
Apart from charters there are independent tourists from the same countries who visit Salalah as independent travellers.
Last season there were around 100 such passengers weekly who arrived in Salalah by Oman Air, Fly Dubai or Qatar Airways.
“Such tourists make their own schedule, while depend on the tour operators for ground services like transport, guide service etc.”
Hussein admitted that last season was very good and the Meeting Point successfully handled all the guests. “Among the charter tourists, there were 21,926 from Germany; 2,623 from Italy; 2,400 from Slovakia and 1,456 from Czech Republic.”
The charters involved in the process were 64 from Germany, 20 from Italy and 24 from Slovakia. Some tourists from Czech Republic chose to come as individual tourists or in small groups.
Citing reason behind some tourists not opting charters and coming individually, a tour operator said: “May be due to their desire to stay more in Salalah as charters have their own schedule, which the travellers are supposed to follow.
“The standard stay is for one week, which is extended sometimes for a section of tourists depending on accommodation in flights.”
Hussein confirmed 56 charters lined up from Germany, 24 from Italy, 44 from Slovakia and Czech Republic in which there are 12 each from Slovakia and Czech Republic and 20 mixed from both the countries.
“The largest chunk of travellers is coming from Germany and Italy in the flight capacity of 320 passengers.
From Germany the charter is twice weekly, while from Italy it is once weekly,” he said.