A welcome decision to close tourist destinations

SALALAH: “Life is far more precious than business and tourism,” is general reaction from people when asked about the Supreme Committee’s decision to close Dhofar Governorate from 12 noon of June 13 until July 3 for tourism.

The decisions soothed the people’s apprehension of arrival of tourists from different parts of the GCC and complicate the Covid-19 situation in the governorate, which is in a better position than many other places in the GCC and even the Sultanate.

Dhofar has 61 confirmed Covid-19 cases with 22 recoveries, 38 currently sick, and one death.

“No doubt Salalah is summer capital of the GCC countries and people love to drop into the city to explore places, which turn out completely green, cool and serene under the influence of monsoon season (Khareef). Arrival of tourists for us is business, which we are going to miss, but health is far more important than business,” said Abdullah, a citizen of Taqah who owns an apartment and does very good business during the season.

“The season in terms of weather, may be as usual as previous years, but Salalah is going to miss those tourists, who make the season livelier. It is beyond anybody’s imagination as to when such a situation cropped up last, at the same time they did not have any clue when they faced a pandemic last. So we have to make a compromise and abide by the call of the nature which wants us to maintain some restraint,” he said.

It is difficult, however, for small businesses like the vendors of local fruits and vegetables and more popularly the tender coconuts, the demand for which is very high among the visitors.

“Every season we have shortage of coconuts, but this season we will not have buyers. We, however, have to manage keeping in mind the pandemic, which is a global phenomenon,” said a local vendor while understanding the sense behind the Supreme Committee decision.

The entire healthcare machinery is on its toes during the season every year due to influx of a large number of tourists. With so many people arriving in the governorate, most of the health units have to expand services and facilities.

“We manage it with support from the Ministry of Health. But in today’s situation every health unit across the governorate is busy handling the pandemic situation. It would be tough for Salalah to manage so many footfalls, that too with the conditions of pandemic protocols of social distancing, hygiene etc,” said an employee who works in health sector in Dhofar.

He endorsed the decision with a hope that the situation comes under control in coming days. “Staying safe is the only solution.  We can build businesses tomorrow, but today’s challenge is to fight the pandemic,” he said.