Visitors are flocking to Dhofar to enjoy the Khareef season with Salalah clocking temperatures in the twenties. It is ideal time to head to the governorate to beat the stress of pandemic and lockdowns, but one should take note of the timings of night lockdown, follow Covid protocol and ensure safe driving while enjoying the season.
The city has been witnessing the influx of tourists and hotels and hotel apartments are seeing a big surge in the demand this year, compared to Khareef 2020 that was completely washed out in total lockdowns.
One resident in Salalah said that all main roads and junctions in the city are bustling with traffic until 10 pm. "All vaccinated people are allowed to enter the city and generally people are following the precautionary measures imposed by the Supreme Committee. But still, there is this fear of the number of daily infections going up in the coming weeks." However, there are some reports of gatherings and crowding in tourist and commercial sites, hotel and residential facilities, and markets. In some cases, people also did not commit to wearing masks.
Oman Meteorology has reported the spread of clouds over parts of Al Wusta and Dhofar with the activity of Khareef clouds (fog and low clouds) and mist fall on the coasts and mountains of Dhofar Governorate. Temperatures in Salalah, Salalah, Sadah, Taqah, and Mirbat are expected to be 25 Degrees Celsius.
The Ministry of Heritage and Tourism (MHT), represented by the Directorate General of Heritage and Tourism in the Governorate of Dhofar, had recently issued a notice to a hotel for not complying with the decisions of the Supreme Committee.
The ministry stressed all hotel and tourist establishments must follow precautionary measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to avoid prosecution.
The ministry has issued fresh guidelines for hotels and tourism establishments. The use of hotel facilities is limited to in-house guests during the ban period. Hotel establishments must adhere to preventive measures and not exceed 50 percent of their capacity. Employees working in hotel establishments can obtain permits from their workplace to pass during the closure period.
The authorities have denied rumours that the Dhofar and Masirah Governorates will be closed until further notice. They were responding to an image from July 2020 circulated in social media, which said the Dhofar governorate will be in full lockdown until further notice.
It may be noted that hotels had an occupancy rate of 22.8 per cent in 2020, compared to 41.6 per cent in 2019 and 46 per cent in 2018. In 2020, 130,000 guests spent 202,000 nights in Dhofar compared to 297,000 guests spending 486,000 in 2019 and 271,000 guests spending 495,000 in 2018. Currently, Dhofar has 35 hotels, of which eight have five-star ratings. (Pictures by Khalid al Shukaili)