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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

New plans to develop more sites for tourism

Part of Oman Vision 2040 to diversify the economy
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Taking advantage of the characteristics of a premier tourist destination, the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism is in the process of formulating new plans to make the Sultanate of Oman a truly unique tourism location.


In the first phase of the plans, the ministry is developing tourist sites in the governorates of Muscat, Al Dakhiliyah, South Al Sharqiyah, Dhofar and Musandam, and followed by the rest of the governorates.


According to Salim bin Mohammed al Mahrouqi, Minister of Heritage and Tourism, the plans include establishing a system for governance, modernising the legal framework, and updating tourism laws and their executive regulations.


“The plans aim at achieving quick gains through the implementation of priority projects in accordance with the current needs of the tourism market and form part of the recovery plan as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which hit several support projects in the sector”, the minister has said.


The plans are part of Oman Vision 2040 to diversify the economy and reduce its reliance on oil. Oman has already attracted RO 1.7 billion in tourism investments out of a planned RO 3 billion between 2021 and 2023.


The number of integrated tourism complex projects in the country currently stands at 21, out of which 11 are on government lands owned by the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, and there are five development agreements already signed for these complexes and eight usufruct contracts.


Ten projects are on private lands, two of which are in the process of implementation, and for four of them development agreements have been signed.


Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran) signed a cooperation agreement with the office of the Governor of South Al Sharqiyah in May to develop a number of tourism projects in different locations in the governorate.


According to the agreement, Omran will provide technical support and supervision for the implementation of projects that will be developed in several phases in tourist destinations in the governorate.


The first phase includes the development of a park in the Suwayh area, on an area of more than 65,000 sqm. Another park will be developed in Al Ashkharah, spread over 14,000 sqm.


In cooperation with the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, Omran is also developing several tourist destinations in Dhofar.


As tourism slowly recovers with the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions by many countries, the Sultanate of Oman received over 794,000 inbound travellers in the period between January 1 and May 31 this year.


TOURISM RECOVERY


Fitch Solutions in its latest report maintained a positive outlook for tourism recovery in Oman during 2022 and 2023, with stronger growth projected in the medium term between 2024 and 2026.


“Underlying growth momentum over the coming years will be supported by the strategic Vision 2040 economic diversification agenda and the highly capitalised position of the state's tourism development authority, Omran”, the global agency said.


As of late in May, the government continues to aggressively implement its rebound strategy, unveil digital marketing initiatives and announce new sector specific investments, it said.


According to the tourism indicators for May 2022 released by National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), while 1.5 million travellers had departed Oman by the end of May 2022.


Oman hotel revenues continue to improve after an immensely difficult period in both 2020 and 2021. Hotel revenues witnessed triple-digit improvements with three- to five-star categories bringing in RO 13 million in revenues, a massive improvement over the RO 4 million brought in during the same time last year.


In terms of guests and occupancy, more than 140,000 guests stayed in hotels during May, compared to 68,000 in May 2021, a 105 per cent improvement. Meanwhile, occupancy rates averaged 42.8 per cent compared to 24 per cent in May 2021.


@samkuttyvp


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