By Kaushalendra Singh — SALALAH: May 16 - The charter season 2016-17 is coming to an end on May 28 on a robust note. The numbers are enticing and encouraging for the tour operators and hoteliers in Salalah. By coming directly to Salalah and going back home in charter planes, these tourists kept the tour operators and hoteliers busy all through the season that started on October-November 2016. A total of 108 charters brought more than 28,000 tourists from Germany, Italy, Slovakia and Czech Republic. This is besides many other individual tourists from the same destinations, who decided to take their own flights, make independent tour schedules but depended on the ground services being offered by the tour operators.
The number of individual travellers was also very high, as not less than 50 such tourists arrived daily in Salalah by Oman Air, Fly Dubai or Qatar Airways. Mostafa Hussein, General-Manager of Meeting Point Tourism Oman, admitted that the season was very good and the Meeting Point successfully handled all the guests. “Among the charter tourists, there were 21,926 from Germany; 2,623 from Italy; 2,400 from Slovakia and 1,456 from Czech Republic. The charters involved in the process were 64 German, 20 Italian and 24 Slovakian. Some tourists from Czech Republic chose to come as individual tourists or in small groups.
Citing reason behind some tourists not opting charters and coming individually, a tour operator said: “May be due to their desire to stay more in Salalah as charters have their own schedule, which the travellers are supposed to follow. The standard stay is for one week, which is extended sometimes for a section of tourists depending on accommodation in flights.” The hospitality sector operators confirmed that the charter season 2016-17 was very good for the hotel industry in Salalah and there were days when their registers showed 100 per cent occupancy.
Vish Ranasinghe, General Manager of Al Fawaz Tours, admitted to have done well this season. “Besides two German charters with a capacity of 360 passengers per week, there were weekly charters from Slovakia, Italy and Czech Republic. It shows that Salalah has potential for more tourists. Some more hotel rooms are likely to add in the coming season making room for more tourists,” he said.
Mehdi Othmani, General Manager, Hilton Salalah, endorsed the rush that kept the hotel busy all through the season and occupancy remained very high all through the season. “Some days the occupancy was between 95-98 per cent,” he said.
Manuel Levonian, General Manager, Crowne Plaza Salalah Resort, termed the beginning of 2017 “very positive”. “Apart from charter tourists, we entertained lots of leisure tourists and movement of corporate clients was also good during the time.”
The newest entrant in Salalah’s hospitality sector, Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara, did well during the season. Bracing for first Ramadhan, Eid and Khareef season, James W Hewitson, General Manager of Al Baleed Resort, was happy to receive new guests to Salalah who were looking for luxurious yet homely atmosphere. “Winter was really good for us. We received guests from Italy, Germany and France along with GCC neighbours and looking for far better monsoon season ahead,” he said.
The tour operators are hoping tourists from new destinations next season due to very successful charter season and high endorsement of destination Salalah in some of the recently concluded travel meets.