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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Oman to see 93% jump in foreign tourists during World Cup

Muscat The Sultanate of Oman has recorded a significant increase in performance compared to other tourist destinations in the region, according to ForwardKeys, a travel data, and analytics organization's latest data on airline ticket reservations, for November and December 2022.


According to the report, Oman can expect an increase of more than 93 percent in international arrivals from European countries, as well as an increase of more than 156 percent from the regional markets.


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The report further indicated that the Sultanate of Oman will host the highest number of visitors from the Republic of Germany, which will as one of the largest source markets for tourists to the Sultanate of Oman in the last quarter of 2022, enabling the Sultanate to witness an increase of more than 140 percent.


On the year-to-year comparison, international arrivals to the Sultanate will witness a big jump during the World Cup period. Most of the tourists will be from Germany (140 percent), the UK (55 percent), UAE (162 percent), France (80 percent), Saudi Arabia (272 percent), Switzerland (60 percent), USA (83 percent), Netherlands (84 percent), Qatar (462 percent) and Australia (2,250 percent). The survey includes only visitors staying in the Sultanate for more than one year night and having actual air tickets.


On average German tourists will prefer to stay in the Sultanate for around a week or eight nights.


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The report also highlighted that the number of visitors to Oman from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will increase by 196 percent, and the United Arab Emirates will be Oman’s largest source of tourists from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, with an increase of 162 percent in the arrivals.


Haitham bin Mohammed al Ghassani, Director General of Tourism Promotion at the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism said: “The latest data shared by ForwardKeys shows the importance of facilities, including air transport, to attract travelers.


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Qatar's Hayya card has been accepted as an entry permit to the Sultanate.


Colonel Ahmed bin Saeed al Ghafri, Director of Administrative Affairs and Finance in the General Administration for Passports and Civil Status, said that World Cup fans can enter the Sultanate (Hayya card holders) with a free multiple-entry visa (valid for up to 60 days).


The Hayya cardholder can avail of this facility for family members and will be allowed to change the visa to another category during his stay in the Sultanate of Oman in accordance with certain conditions.


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The Sultanate of Oman plays an important role in contributing to the growth of tourism in the region, given its well-established roots identifying culture, tradition, and heritage that blend with modern experiences. Oman is flooded with natural beauty and is a haven for visitors, making it an ideal place for a couple or a family.”


“During the World Cup period, Oman will benefit from travelers visiting multiple destinations within the GCC. This is an exciting opportunity for the destination to engage with highly motivated travelers who are keen to travel in the post-pandemic and explore the region more,” says Olivier Ponti, VP of Insights at ForwardKeys.


ForwardKeys was founded in 2010 on the premise that businesses dependent on international travelers – such as tourism organizations, hotels, and retailers – would make better strategic decisions if they knew who was traveling where, when, and for how long. The range of travel data solutions and insights is frequently used by industry partners such as UNWTO, WTTC, and MEADFA.


Meanwhile, The ‘Oman World Cup Programme’ announced the details of the Football Fan Festival, which will take place at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) from November 18. Speaking to the media at a briefing on Sunday, the Fan Zone will be able to cater to 4,000 guests at a given point in time, offering contests, activities, competitions, food stalls, and live broadcasts of all 64 matches.


Oman Air said that ticket fares for shuttle flights will be RO49 for both residents with a free date change facility available as per conditions. An area of more than 9,000 square metres at OCEC gardens will be dedicated to the Football Fan Festival, which will feature a specially constructed fan village catering to all ages.


The ‘Food Zone’ will have 12 dedicated F&B outlets and some of them will be changed regularly, ensuring that returning visitors always have something new to try. Two ‘Activity Zones’, each with a dedicated five-a-side football pitch.


These two zones will feature over 22 interactive football-themed mini-games and activities for families and people of all ages to enjoy. Some highlights include: The final zone will be the ‘Football Theatre’ where all 64 matches of the World Cup will be broadcasted live, in partnership with beIN Sports.


The matches will be shown on three large screens with grandstand seating as well as at other viewing areas around the fan festival area. Moreover, each of the festival screens can stream a different match independently of the others. There will be several contests and incentives organized before and during the festival, both on-site and online. The first is a Football Fan Festival E-World Cup, an online e-sports contest that will kick off on November 20.


The Football Fan Festival will welcome well-known musical stars, comedians, dancers, and performers. The program will change every day and it is recommended to follow the festival’s website and social media channels for the most up-to-date information on programs scheduled for each respective match day. The Football Fan Festival has appointed Oman’s football icon Ali al Habsi as the official brand ambassador alongside favorite sports personalities Khalil al Balushi, Fatma al Nabhani, and Mohammed al Noufali. They will all join the Festival’s promotional activities and on-site activities.


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