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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Air connectivity and basic facilities give push to tourism

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MUSCAT, July 31 - Summer tourism in the Sultanate is thriving, thanks to the provision of basic amenities at the existing destinations and increased air connectivity to some, the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) has said. A total of 3,042,695 tourists visited the Sultanate last year, which is 16.2 per cent over the previous year. According to the ministry, a nearly 20-per cent increase in tourist flow is expected this year. “Both domestic and international tourism are showing significant improvement as these areas were provided with all the basic amenities,” said Mohammed bin Saif al Riyami, Director of International Office, MoT.


In terms of revenue, it jumped manifold last year compared with the preceding year. That is because of the addition of new attractions and basic amenities to existing tourism destinations: Jabal Al Akhdar, Wadi Shaab, Sharqiyah, Salalah, which were widely visited by tourists from the GCC and other countries. Al Riyami attributed the tourism boom to the well-established and sustainable infrastructure development, besides projects that boost the country’s tourist potential in the domestic as well as international markets. He said increased connectivity by major airlines has also helped in achieving a higher growth.


“Many international carriers with connectivity to the capital city and Salalah has ensured a double-digit growth this year compared with last year,” he said. More than three million tourists visited Oman in 2017, according to the annual report of the ministry. “We have also signed agreements with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Oil and Gas, making it mandatory for new petrol stations to have at least five toilets for men, an equal number for women and one for the physically challenged in the capital city,” said Al Riyami, noting these measures have helped attract more tourists.


Outside Muscat, there should be three toilets for men, an equal number for women and one for the physically challenged.


Similarly, agreements were signed with people having land or properties near the tourism destinations for building amenities, whose maintenance costs would be borne by the ministry.


Highlighting the country’s tourism potential, World Travel and Tourism Council, in its economic impact report for 2017, has ranked the Sultanate ninth in the world in terms of overall tourism industry growth.


Another report suggests that the country’s spending on tourism might cross one billion dollars, with Omran, the Sultanate’s government body responsible for investing in tourism, tying up with Egyptian tourism development company Orascom (RO 250 million investment) to take Oman tourism to next level.


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