Muscat, Jan 8 – Alongside, the Ministry of Tourism is in the process of standardising the licensing procedures and setting standards for organising such activities to ensure the safety of tourists.
These developments are part of the initiatives that have emerged from Tanfeedh’s tourism labs. “New Zealand is highly developed in tourism. We have signed an MoU with the country to gain expertise. By end of this year, we would be able to standardise the industry and the licensing procedures,” said Ghazi al Hashemi, Expert on Tourism Services, MoT.
The ministry is currently working with contractors to develop additional trekking paths in Musandam. It has already started developing some trails around Khasab, especially for passengers from cruise liners.
Misfat Al Abriyeen’s community has proposed to develop a zip line in the area. “We are looking at other areas to develop zip lines and via ferrata,” said Andrew Lawrence, Cave Expert at the ministry.
Via ferrata is a protected climbing route. Using a via ferrata kit, climbers can secure themselves to the cable, limiting any fall. Zip line is a device that allows a person to slide down an inclined wire or rope. Plots are being looked at for installing zip lines. The results are expected by end of this year.
Tanfeedh labs had also recommended eco projects, including the opening up of some protected areas such as the Qurum Mangrove for tourism activities.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs has entered into an agreement with the Muscat National Development and Investment Company (ASAAS) to prepare a feasibility study for developing sustainable tourism in the delicate mangrove reserve.
“Qurum Mangrove is a nature reserve right in the heart of Muscat,” said Lawrence. “Some of the concepts that are in the draft stage include food and beverage outlets as well as adventure activities such as paddle boating and kayaking.” According to experts, a feasibility study will be conducted this year. Tourism activities can be expected within two years.
Al Saleel Safari in Al Kamil is another project selected as part of the Tanfeedh programme for developing sustainable tourism activities.
“Al Saleel is home to gazelles, birds, especially migratory birds, and plant life. The Ministry of Tourism is working with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs and Omran to look at its tourism potential. The feasibility study will happen this year.” According to Lawrence, the idea of developing these areas is not just for simple tourism, but also to increase awareness among locals and international visitors about the importance of conservation.
Al Hashemi said the involvement of the local community is part of the tourism strategy. “We have been receiving applications from locals for projects such as trekking, especially in Rustaq.” Many locals are running their own businesses connected with tourism. “We are
keen to help these entities improve their work and generate revenues through their activities,” Al Hashemi noted.
Wakan, for instance, is looking at developing a trekking path to Jabal Al Akhdhar that was used in the olden days.