Tourists spent a whopping RO 318.9 million while holidaying in the Sultanate in 2016, according to figures released by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI). The tally — which underscores the importance of tourism and hospitality sector for the national economy — is higher than the corresponding figures for the previous years. The tourist spending includes expenditure towards purchase of airline tickets, hotel stay, food and beverages, shopping, transportation. More than three million tourists visited Oman in 2016, representing a roughly 15 per cent rise over 2015. Tourist flow is expected to cross the four million mark by 2020, according to the Ministry of Tourism.
Significantly, hotels, resorts and apartment hotels were the biggest beneficiaries accounting for more than a third of the spending by tourists, NCSI tweeted on Wednesday. The hotel industry earned RO 118.8 million last year.
The tourism sector generated RO 82.8 million in revenues for the airlines, chiefly state-owned carrier Oman Air. Food and beverages came next with earnings of RO 47.4 million, followed by shopping and retail segment at RO 35.4 million.
An important beneficiary was the transport sector, comprising a mix of car rentals, coaches, taxis and ferry service providers, which earned RO 20.7 million.
Revenues earned by other service providers totalled RO 13.8 million.
These figures attest to the importance of tourism and hospitality industry in fuelling socio-economic development across the country.
The sector not only sustains thousands of jobs held by Omanis across all facets of the industry, but also provides business opportunities for local small and medium enterprises, craftsmen and women, and assorted service providers.
Various initiatives pursued by the Ministry of Tourism, besides other industry stakeholders, promise to boost tourist flow in the Sultanate. These initiatives include efforts to streamline visa procedures, attract investment in new hotels and resorts, modernise air gateways, promote budget airlines and charter services, and create new leisure destinations.
Effective from 2016, e-visas have been made available to the nationals of 63 countries.
Hammam Al Badi