Jabal Akhdhar sees 226,000 tourists in winter

Muscat: More than 226,000 tourists visited Jabal Akhdar, the preferred destination in winter, in 2018.

It is one of the most important tourist spots in Oman that sees a surge in the number of visitors every year, especially from Europe.

A couple from London, who were visiting the country for the first time, said they were here to enjoy the “wonderful winter weather”. “We spent a wonderful time and will definitely visit again,” they said.

Michelle from Belgium said she was in Jabal Akhdhar to enjoy the winter holidays. “Winter is the perfect time to visit this country where the temperature is moderate and does not dip to inconvenient levels.”

Winter means a boom time for hotels and resorts here as they see high occupancy rates. They hold several activities, tours and entertainment programmes for guests, including those within the city and in the mountains. They also arrange beach visits.

Azhar bin Khalfan al Tobi, Assistant Director, Department of Tourism of Al Dakhiliyah Governorate, said the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) was working on developing mountain tracks and a map to make it easier for tourists to explore the area.

Manal bint Mubarak al Shuraiqiyah, an environmental expert in the Ministry of Tourism in Al Dakhiliyah Governorate, said that tourists arriving at the information centre at entrance of the mountain are provided with information, brochures and publications about the nature of the mountain.

She said the low temperature and cultivation of crops such as roses and olive, besides ancient villages near the mountain, have helped attract a large number of tourists from Europe and Arab countries.

The ministry has printed leaflets and placed signboards on roadsides leading to the mountain in an attempt to create environmental awareness about the area.

Raja Obaid, Assistant Director of Anantara Hotel & Resort in Jabal Akhdar, said the resort holds activities such as visiting the Aflaj and nearby villages, introduction of local culture such as environmental agriculture, besides walking and climbing slopes of the mountain.

Salem al Suwaimari, an employee of Alila Resort in Jabal Akhdhar, said tourists can enjoy activities such as horse riding, exploring wadis, visiting caves, hiking and camping.

A Lebanese tourist said: “Omani people impressed us with their hospitality. We roamed in the mountains and explored nature. We spent a nice time walking in the area.”

Walid Saif, an Egyptian tourist staying in Anantara Hotel, Jabal Akhdhar, described the atmosphere on the mountains as “healing”. He said he spent his time roaming around and taking photographs of the scenic landscapes.

Ali al Jani, an employee of the marketing and public relations team of Anantara Hotel, said: “Our objective is to promote natural/ ecological tourism on the mountains. It is mixed with luxury/ traditional Omani hospitality.”

Arif bin Yaqoub al Sariri, manager of Alila Hotel, said tourism in winter includes activities such as climbing, walking, cycling, watching the nature and some old buildings near the mountain. –ONA

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