MUSCAT, JUNE 9 - Tourists arriving by luxury cruise liners calling at Port Sultan Qaboos (Muscat), Port of Salalah (Dhofar) and Port Khasab (Musandam) rose by around one per cent to 356,139 visitors in 2018, up from 353,096 visitors in 2017, according to the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC). The growth, albeit modest, is a further testament to Oman’s growing international appeal as a destination for cruise liners. Cruise traffic is projected to grow in the wake of, among other initiatives, an ambitious effort by Omran — the wholly government-owned tourism investment vehicle — to transform Port Sultan Qaboos into a waterfront destination.
At the same time, fishery harbours that will double as marinas for yachts and leisure boats are expected to pull in additional tourist numbers as well. According to MoTC’s 2018 Annual Report, published here recently, Port Sultan Qaboos pulled in around 238K cruise passengers last year, down from 242K in 2017. Visitors arriving via Port of Salalah surged to around 35K last year, up from 22K in 2017. Port Khasab registered 83K cruise tourists last year, which was marginally lower than the previous year’s tally of 88K. Port Khasab is also proposed to be upgraded into a waterfront destination with a substantial leisure component — a transformation that will drive cruise liner traffic to this scenic locale in Musandam Governorate.