It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly attracts the visitors. It’s possible that its the sweet, comforting spray from the several waterfalls that dot the whole expanse of the governorate, or the historical sites that offer a glimpse into a colourful past or perhaps, it can just be solely attributed to the cool, temperature. Whatever it is, Salalah, ask anyone, is truly a magical place to escape — an anomaly in this part of the world.
Visitors from across the region, even those from Europe and other parts of the world, were seen trying to catch a glimpse of Khareef. Shutterbugs everywhere are incessant with their snapping trying to freeze in time balmy Salalah especially its misty green surroundings.
Thousands of miles away from home, it is German citizen Frederick’s first visit to the region. Snowfall and occasional rains were not new for this architect. Nonetheless, he breathed and immersed himself in the natural settings of Dhofar along with his friend Katrina.
“A visit to Dhofar topped our list of places to visit in this year’s travel itinerary by chance. Having read in the net about this beautiful place, we only planned to visit Salalah for a day, but we are stuck here since last week because it’s so captivating to spend time in the lap of nature,” Frederick confessed.
He and his friend’s original plan was head directly to India after a day of visiting Salalah.
The number of visitors to Salalah just last week reached 10,000.
Statistics show that 658,406 visitors made it to Khareef this year marking a nearly 28 percent increase compared with last year and a strong number of 301,991 tourists made their way to Salalah by the first week of August 2017.
This marks an increase of visitors by 28 percent while the occupancy rate in apartments and villas during the surged climbed to 98 percent, as noted by the National Centre for Statistics and Information.
While Omanis made up the majority with 72 percent of the total visiting Salalah, Saudi nationals made 5.4 percent and Emiratis 4.9 percent. Asian tourists made the rest with nearly 13.7 percent along with 6,497 Qataris, 4,949 Bahrainis and 4,207 Kuwaitis who also made their way to the popular tourist destination.
“We have snow falling in Saudi and rains and misty clime but the Salalah rains and greenery is riveting,” shared Sahla Batarfi, a Saudi national who visited Dhofar as part of her family vacation.
But visitors were unanimous when they said that Cyclone Mekunu, although having caused a disastrous effect to this touristic destination, bestowed the land with heavy rain resulting in amazing greenery which covered mountains making it even lovable. The temperatures were substantially low, waterfalls everywhere tempting people to try their hands in rowing in both the still and flowing waters.
“Rowing the small boats across the two banks was an awesome experience and I really loved it,” said Asita, an Iranian tourist.
With days getting thin towards the end of this year’s amazing season, all roads are leading to this misty land as people share their experiences on social media. As people bid adieu to Dhofar after spending days here, one last word they keep reminding their followers, and that is, “a place one should never miss to experience.”