MUSCAT: Domestic tourism contributed 77 per cent to the total revenue of the tourism sector in the Sultanate in 2015. The 9th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) has accorded great attention to this sector due to the role it plays in attracting foreign investments and generating employment opportunities. The data released by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) on tourism indicators pointed to an increase in the contribution of the tourism sector to the GDP in 2015 to 2.8 per cent, about RO 748.6 million, compared to 2.2 per cent in 2014.
The statistical figures indicate that the deficit recorded in the tourism balance in the Sultanate in 2015 reached RO 199.7 million, an increase of RO 36.2 million compared to 2014. However, the total tourist revenue rose 3.9 per cent in 2015 compared to 2014 to hit RO 1.26 billion. The bulletin referred to a rise in the number of hotels in the Sultanate in 2015, reaching 318 hotels, compared to 235 hotels in 2011, an increase of 35 per cent. The total revenues of hotels in the Sultanate has reached RO 226.9 million in 2015 and revenues of 5-star hotels constituted 44.2 per cent of the total revenue. The rise in the number of hotels was accompanied by a rise in the number of employees. The data indicates that the number of workers in these hotels in 2015 increased to 11,054 up by 3 per cent compared to 2014.
Omanis constitute 29 per cent of the total number of employees in 2015, and they constitute 33 per cent of the total number of staff at 5-star hotels. Guests for these hotels rose to 2.7 million in 2015 compared with 2.4 million in 2014, which is reflected in the rate of occupancy in hotels which increased by 50 per cent in 2015 compared to 49.2 per cent in 2014. The total number of rooms in 2015 also increased by 5.1 per cent compared to 2014. The total number of expatriate visitors to the Sultanate stood at 2.6 million in 2015, up 88 per cent compared to 2011. Those visitors spent RO 288.3 million in 2015, a 15 per cent rise compared to that in 2014.
They spent on accommodation 38.1 per cent of their total spending. The average length of the stay of tourists rose to seven nights in 2015 in comparison to six in 2011. The GCC visitors constituted 45.5 per cent of the total visitors in 2015. The tourism indicators show that the visitors departing from the Sultanate reached 5.4 million in 2015, up 62 per cent from 2011. The average length of stay of departing tourists was 21 nights in 2015, compared to 22 in 2014. — ONA