Five-fold surge in Russian tourists

The inflow of Russian tourists to the Sultanate during Quarter 1, 2019 grew five times more than the same period last year, thanks to the visa-free visit option and direct air connections with the world’s largest nation, according to the Ministry of Tourism sources.
In all, 4,391 Russians visited the country during the said period as against some 862 tourists in the Q1 last year, said Abdullah Ali al Hashami, Marketing Specialist at the International Offices Department of the Directorate General of Tourism Promotion, Ministry of Tourism.
“We saw such a significant increase in the number of Russian tourists in the first three months of this year”, Al Hashami said, adding that this was due to the relentless work of the ministry, Sultanate’s Embassy in Moscow, and the representative office which was opened in December last in Moscow, along with the Royal Oman Police, Customs, Oman Airports, Oman Air and a number of other organisations and tour operators which played key roles in attracting tourists.
More than 20,000 tourists from Russia visited Oman last year and it is all set to grow manifold this year. He lauded the additional facilities and things that add value to the people visiting the Sultanate calling them ‘tourism boosters’ and hoped a proportionate, even more number to visit the country in the coming months of this year.
“We have all reasons to look forward to receiving more than 100,000 Russian tourists this year as we have added many value addition prepositions to the existing facilities that act as major tourist pullers. They include basic and extensive amenities being added and attractive packages by your operators. Most of the Russian tourists are interested in Oman’s beach tourism, mountain tourism, cultural and heritage tourism while many are keen on knowing the history of the country through artefacts found in historic places like Khor Rori and Sumharam.”
Oman opened the Russian market after the country announced visa on arrival for Russian nationals along with a few other nationals last year.
Russia has recently been added to the B category for tourist visas, whereby an electronic visa becomes possible with some new procedures. Not only that, tour operators too play a crucial role in promoting the nation across the seas.
“The Ministry of Tourism has worked in coordination with the authorities concerned and the tourism officials in Russia, complemented by the direct flights by the national carrier Oman Air between Muscat and Moscow, made availability of visa easy and organised a number of joint promotional workshops for Omani and Russian tourism companies in the country.”
Oman’s diplomatic relations with Russia too are on a northward growth trend. Last year, the Sultanate and Russia held the seventh round of political consultations where they discussed means of boosting bilateral ties in transport, energy, mining, industries and tourism.
There were also discussions on regional and international issues and both countries expressed readiness to resolve them through dialogue and peaceful means.
Russia has continued to offer 150 scholarships for Omani students who wished to pursue their higher studies there and most of them are in medicine, engineering, economics, tourism and science streams.