As khareef-bound Salalah prepares to receive visitors from around the Sultanate of Oman and the wider Middle East region, municipalities across Dhofar Governorate are moving to enhance the appeal of local villages and towns to ensure they receive a share of the tourism revenues that the holiday season will bring forth.
Officials contacted by the Observer in a number of local municipalities said they are providing all necessary facilities to local businesses and entrepreneurs and thereby contribute to the revitalisation of economic and tourism activities across various wilayats in the governorate.
In the Wilayat of Taqah, for example, Wadi Darbat - one of the most important natural tourist attractions in the governorate – is being prepped to receive large numbers of visitors when the monsoon is at its peak. In addition to beautifying the scenic setting, a number of small businesses are introducing amusement and leisure amenities to help enhance the holiday experience of visitors to the site.
An official source at the local Wali’s Office in Taqah said the office is processing a large number of requests from small and medium enterprises, as well as homeowners, looking for approvals to operate small-scale tourist businesses during the holiday season. To help with the processing of these requests, health inspection teams are also busy inspecting sites requested by small entrepreneurs for their commercial activities.
Salem al Mashani, a Taqah-based vegetable and fruit trader, said he was keenly looking forward to the tourism season. “With Taqah located just 22 kilometres away from Salalah, we tend to receive a lot of tourists exploring the countryside with their vehicles. Our sales of fresh fruit and vegetables more than doubled during this season,” he said, adding that he is currently awaiting approval for setting up branches of his retail sales outlet in tourist locations.
Tourists are also expected to throng nearby Samharam, a UNESCO Heritage Site, which is one of the oldest ports in ancient Middle East, dating back thousands of years.
According to the supervisor of the site, khareef brings in loads of Arab tourists and their families. The site consists of a restored heritage city as well as a mini-museum that includes all the details of the site. A short film offers visitors insights into life in this once-famous town that thrived thousands of years ago.