MUSCAT, Sept 18 – In the first half of 2019, the number of Chinese tourists arriving in Oman increased by 42 per cent to around 64,000, as the country seeks to tap 150 million Chinese who frequently travel abroad. The number of Chinese coming to Oman has increased from 8,800 a few years ago to 44,000 in 2018. “By this year-end, Oman will be receiving around 70,000 to 80,000, Chinese tourists,” according to Salim Aday al Maamari, Director-General of Tourism Promotion. He said a series of initiatives including attempts to understand their specific requirements will be launched.
Maitha bint Saif al Mahrouqi, Under-Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, said the government has been trying to understand the needs of the source markets so that tour and travel operators in Oman are able to customise their products. Oman is not focusing on mass, but sustainable tourism development as the government continues to see tourism as one of the key non-oil sectors. Prof Marcus Lee Thong Yee, CEO of Welcome China, a consultant and organiser of the China Ready workshop, said that strategies should not focus on competing with other markets in the region, but promoting Oman as a niche market.
“The young Chinese tourists are looking for new markets every year, and Oman could be one among them in the coming years.” He said Oman should cater to these tourists by offering authentic Chinese restaurants and trained Chinese tour guides and translators as nearly 90 per cent of Chinese do not speak English. Marcus said that hotels catering to Chinese tourists should ensure that they offer free and fast Wi-Fi and a Chinese TV channel.
“Still many people in China do not know much about Oman and they keep asking whether it is a safe country or not as it is in the Middle East.
Oman has been ranked among the top 10 for safety and security and that should be promoted strongly across the globe through various platforms.” On the infrastructure front, he said the market should be prepared to offer 39,000 hotel beds, 40 hotels and 400 buses if Oman is to host a big convention or exhibition from China here. Oman offers unsponsored tourist visas to Chinese tourists.