With the beginning of the holiday season and the closure of schools from the second week of June, the hospitality sector is in a joyous mood because most countries have relaxed travel restrictions. Demand is picking for flight and hotel bookings globally, and the situation is not different in the Sultanate of Oman.
However, with the rise in demand for travel, there has been a surge in airfares, making it unaffordable for some.
In an earlier statement, IATA had predicted that overall traveller numbers in 2024 touching 4 billion, including multi-sector connecting trips as one passenger. This is in excess of the pre-Covid-19 levels by 103 per cent of the 2019 total, which has created a sense of excitement among the travel and tourism houses.
“As always, when you have high demand, you have higher rates to pay for. Now that the Covid-19 protocols relaxed, people feel safe travelling back and forth between their home countries and holiday destinations,” said Sunil D’Souza, CEO, Travel City Group.
“However, monkeypox, which is slowly being detected in multiple countries, is bit worrying but WHO hadn’t raised the alarm as it is not as infectious and deadly like Covid-19,” he added.
Since the government-imposed travel restrictions in some markets have been lifted, expectations for the shape of the near-term recovery have gone high slightly, according to the travel experts.
Studies have reported that travel houses can look forward to a busy summer season in 2022, and many small, as well as big players in the sector, will be relieved of their backlogs of the pandemic.
In 2021, overall traveller numbers were 47 per cent of 2019 levels. This is expected to improve to 83 per cent in 2022, 94 per cent in 2023, 103 per cent in 2024 and 111 per cent in 2025.
In 2021, international traveller numbers were 27 per cent of 2019 levels. This is expected to improve to 69 per cent in 2022, 82 per cent in 2023, 92 per cent in 2024 and 101 per cent in 2025.
KHAREEF AND TOURISM
Khareef, or the monsoon season of the Dhofar Governorate, which usually extends from mid-June to the end of September, is a major tourist puller. Two years of the pandemic had taken the sheen out of season. Dhofar’s Salalah is an important attraction for the people of the Arab region, where they face hot weather during these months.
According to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), 760,000 tourists visited Salalah from June to September 10 last season.
While Omanis constituted the largest, with 70.8 per cent of the visitors, UAE nationals accounted for 7.7 per cent and GCC nationals 9.2 per cent.
The arrivals of the tourists contribute to the economy as they seek services from airlines and bus services to the cab driver, from hotels, motels, and restaurants to roadside eateries.
“Overall travel demand is healthy and high, and this season would help the industry recover its past losses to a larger extent,” a travel agent from Salalah added.