Eid boost for domestic tourism

Muscat, Aug 18 – While the people of Oman are all set to embark on a long Eid al Adha holiday, travel industry sources expect domestic tourism to get a boost. With citizens and residents having returned after long overseas summer vacations and day temperatures still unfavourable for outdoor activity in the plains, places such as Salalah, Jabal Shams, Jabal Akhdhar and Masirah Island are the hot favourites.
Dubai, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Maldives and Kenya are the popular international destinations.
Kerala, battered by incessant rains and resultant flooding, is out of bounds for tourists for the time being.
Masirah Island has emerged as a popular destination, with Mwasalat and National Ferries Company offering land-sea connectivity.
Hotels in the island are reporting nearly 100 per cent occupancy.
According to industry sources, Salalah is still the favourite domestic destination, thanks to its moderate temperatures.
The city is witnessing an extended khareef season this year with a nearly 50 per cent increase in the number of tourists compared with 2017.
“Long holidays will give a boost to the hotel apartments sector, which are relative cheaper than hotels,” said Satish, in-charge of a series of hotel apartments in the city.
“We are travelling by road as flights are expensive. We will be taking short breaks to avoid any fatigue,” said Prabhakar, who opted for Salalah after exploring options such as Masirah.
Countering the argument that Oman needs to offer more than pristine beaches, wadis and mountains, the Ministry of Tourism has stepped in by announcing several programmes in different wilayats across the country.
The ministry has announced various programmes that will be held in Suhar, Izki, Ibri, Khasab, Ibra, Sur, Jaalan Bani Bu Ali, Atina and Rustaq. It has announced the timings for various castles and forts that could be a major attraction for visitors, including Khasab Castle, Al Hillah Castle, Muttrah Fort, Al Hazm, Nakhl Fort, Al Rustaq fort, Qurayat Castle, Ibri Castle, Nizwa Fort, Ras al Hadd Castle and Taqah and Mirbat castles in Dhofar.
Castles and forts in Oman received 170,453 visitors by the end of last June.
The ministry also issued an advisory for people who prefer the mountain ranges. “If you’re exploring Oman’s mountain ranges, we advise you to use/engage a 4WD when driving on the steep slopes or off-roads,” said the advisory.
Motorists have been urged to store plenty of water and keep an eye on the engine temperature.
The Royal Oman Police (ROP) has urged motorists to check the vehicle tyres, batteries and coolants before hitting the roads.

Vinod Nair