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After successful khareef season, winter tourism now beckons in Salalah

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Having attracted large numbers of holidaymakers during the just-concluded khareef season, the tourism and hospitality industry in Salalah has now set its sights on ramping up tourist inflows into Dhofar Governorate during the upcoming winter season as well.

The issue was among a number of topics discussed during a recent meeting hosted by the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism with local industry representatives on the occasion of the World Tourism Day.

At the meeting, private sector representatives shares their thoughts on how the two sides – government and private – need to work together to position Salalah as a year-round holiday destination and not predominantly limited to the khareef season.

It was also announced at the meeting that the Frankincense Festival at Samharam in Taqah Wilayat will continue till the end of this year. Furthermore, buoyed by the success of the Empty Quarter Festival, a new edition of this event will be held next year as well.

Officials disclosed that Salalah Airport will handle as many as eight flights per week, bring tourists from Slovakia, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic during the winter season. This is in addition to charters due to arrive from other popular source markets.

A strong proponent of year-round tourism in Dhofar is Murat Sak, Executive Hotel Manager – Hawana Salalah, a prominent Integrated Tourism Complex set up in Dhofar Governorate.

Speaking to the Observer, Sak said the khareef season had witnessed a sharp increase in arrivals compared to the severe slump of the past two years when the pandemic had shuttered the sector. He credited efforts made by the authorities, as well as the local tourism industry, for this success – efforts that should be replicated to support winter tourist inflows as well, he said.

“We must focus efforts on building the winter holiday season, which spans six months compared to the 3-month khareef season, while khareef festivities run for only 45 days,” he said.

Commenting on the promising potential during the winter season, he stated: “Our guests come from all over Europe and the Middle East with roughly 25 per cent each from Germany, Italy and Poland and remaining 25 per cent shared between France, Slovakia, Czech and Middle Eastern countries.”

According to Sak, interest in the governorate’s rich natural, archaeological and historical heritage is strong among winter tourists. “Most of them are interested in knowing more about Oman and its culture. There’s a big demand for desert trips, with around 50 per cent of our guests booking a trip to spend a night in the desert. Others request tours of the city and of archaeological sites in the region.”

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