By Kabeer Yousuf — MUSCAT: April 23 - Cruise tourism, a major attraction for many around the world, is expected to bring in 230,000 visitors to Oman, the Ministry of Tourism has said. While the charter flights tourism services brought 35,000 visitors to the country last year, with Salalah being a major hub for charter services, various liners that called at the Oman ports brought 177,000 visitors last year. However, charter services are poised to bring in 50,000 international visitors this year.
Targets set for cruise tourism is a promising figure as sea tourism can be rewarding for both direct and indirect beneficiaries, starting from cabbies plying around Muttrah Corniche to vendors inside Muttrah souq, besides restaurants and antique sellers. “It has been found that on an average, a foreign tourist on a cruise liner spent $100 (RO 38). Therefore, bringing in more cruise tourists would be highly rewarding for the economy,” said Salim al Maamri, Director-General Tourism Promotion at the Ministry of Tourism. Speaking on the sidelines of the recent 2nd Get Connected Forum, Al Maamri said there has been a surge in the number of cruise ships arriving at Port Sultan Qaboos, and Salalah and Khasab.
“There has been an increase in the number of cruise ships that arrived at the three major ports. In 2015-16, we received 230 international cruise liners as against 187 in 2014-15 and 177 in 2013-14.”
The major cruise liners that called at the Oman ports included Thomson, Carnival, MSC, Royal Caribbean, TUI, Aida and Costa.
The ministry leaves no stone unturned in backing companies dealing with charter flights, especially during off season, which is aimed at complementing hotel occupancy. While the number of hotels has increased six per cent, touching 337 last year, the number of hotel rooms rose by 13 per cent.