By Kabeer Yousuf — MUSCAT: April 12 – With an assortment of ambitious projects aimed at increasing the volume of inbound tourists, the Ministry of Tourism has announced that it aims to attract the private sector investments to the tune of RO 1.8 billion, as well as increase added value in the tourism sector to RO 1 billion within the purview of the 9th Five-Year Plan by 2020. This was announced at the second Tawasul ‘Get Connected Forum’ organised under the auspices of Ahmed bin Nasser al Mehrzi, Minister of Tourism, at the Ministry of Tourism on Wednesday.
The forum was aimed at facilitating a direct communication between various entities and institutions in the tourism sector, officials and representatives from several government entities, private sector institutions and other establishments operating in the tourism sector.
“A massive investment of more than RO 3 billion is happening up to 2020 by both government and private sectors. The private sector has already invested around RO 2 billion and the rest is from the government which will certainly be a boost to the tourism sector,” the minister told the Observer. He added that around 15 mega tourism projects are planned and RO 60 million allocated for tourism development till 2020. This year alone more than RO 16 million will be invested in various projects aimed at easing the tourism sector.
“We hope that the second ‘Get Connected Forum’ has achieved its goal of effectively communicating the initiatives and projects reflecting the ongoing development in the tourism sector, as well as the new services that the sector will provide for citizens and tourists as we consider each and every establishment that is involved in the sector as an important component,” he said.
Salalah had seen an increase of 22 per cent in terms of tourism growth, and shared top positions with two others in the region. The minister said that this is due to the increased charter services, and visit of cruise liners which facilitated a massive number of inbound tourists.
“Salalah is rising because the tourists have discovered the beauty of Salalah, the beaches, the mountains and the deserts. Other destinations are lagging behind,” he added.
During the forum, topics related to Oman’s Tourism Strategy 2040 were reviewed and discussed.
Topics such as the 15 tourism initiatives within the national programme to promote economic diversification, tourism projects in the pipeline, and the ones which will be signed during the current and next stage. Regarding Omanisation in the tourism sector, the minister said that the process is a partnership between the Ministry of Manpower and the Ministry of Tourism, as the National Economic Diversification Programme (Tanfeedh) is one of the initiative in this regard. He added that work is underway to implement the 2040 strategy after completing the plans and working programmes. An agreement was reached with the Ministry of Finance regarding allocation for 2017.
He noted that tenders for layouts in the governorates of Al Dakhiliyah, Musandam, South Al Sharqiyah, Muscat, as well as for Masirah and Jabal Shams will be awarded soon.
As for the Teleferik, he pointed out that the project will be at Jabal al Akhdar and that a feasibility study for the project is still under way. Applications for investment for this project have been received and it might be started initially in Dhofar, he said. Specialists from the ministry gave a presentation on the main roles, objectives and plans of the ministry, and its continuous communication with various parties related to the sector; thereby facilitating procedures and developing the sector’s performance. This, according to them, will help contribute to increasing the number of tourists visiting the Sultanate, in line with the economic plans of the Sultanate. The forum also included a review of the major integrated tourism projects.
Currently 11 projects are under way in Muscat, Salalah, Ras al Hadd, Barka and other areas of the Sultanate.
The presentation also explained similar projects in the pipeline from Omran. Representatives from Oman Air made a presentation at the forum, while another presentation was also made by representatives from the “Marhaba Taxi for Company”.
Representatives from Oman Sail explained that the organisation is promoting the Sultanate and its abundant tourism potential. Representatives from Salalah Airline and the National Hospitality Institute highlighted the main services and their strategic plan for the next phase.
During the forum, representatives from Omran also made presentations related to the company’s plans and projects that are currently under way to support tourism in Oman.
STR International, which is specialised in tourism sector indicators, had also made a presentation on topics related to hotels’ supply, demand, and performance in the Middle East and GCC in general, and in Oman specifically. — (With ONA inputs)