Local businesses gear up for khareef

SALALAH, July 9 – Nature and business go together in Salalah. It is nature which has turned Salalah into a four-season destination.
Among the seasons winter and monsoon are popular among the tourists, as different sets of tourists visit Salalah in different seasons.
Salalah’s winter is popular among the Europeans, while Khareef (monsoon) attracts tourists mainly from the Middle Eastern and GCC countries.
Khareef still holds the key from the perspective of direct involvement of local people in all sorts of businesses ranging from handicrafts to real estate, restaurants, agriculture, art and culture and even laundries and barber shops.
For entrepreneurs this is the best launch season for their ideas and products to get wider publicity.
Said Mohammed Bakheet, a businessman in Salalah, summarised the involvement of local people in tourism related businesses and jobs therein as ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’.
“The winter tourism that brings tourists in charters and cruises, create many indirect jobs for local people, like engagement of vehicles for tour, tourist guides and local tour operators who work as sub agents of international tour operators.
Then there are entertainment groups. But the direct involvement of locals in this segment is still limited.” “During the Khareef season there is mass involvement of local people in business activities.
Most of them are engaged either through renting their houses, small or big businesses, agriculture products, restaurants.
The Salalah Tourism Festival (STF) itself creates many job opportunities for local businessmen and entrepreneurs,” he said.
The festival is opening today at Itin Festival Ground.
Many Omani housewives take part in the ‘Culture Village’ and ‘Traditional Food Court’ at the STF where handicrafts and traditional Omani food items are sold.
Both the sections are big crowd pullers, which ultimately add to the business of local people.
All sorts of visitors that come to Salalah as tourists boost business either by staying in hotels, eating in restaurants or even touring in and around Salalah.
Their good business creates many indirect businesses for local people.
For them the season started quite early and as per projections they are doing very well this year.
Visitors also have advantage due to supply of accommodation in all the areas in Salalah. Accommodation booking sites are also doing well due to high demand of rooms in Salalah.
Despite listing of many private houses with these booking sites, all big hotels are showing good occupancy all through July and August. Furnished apartments are good in supply in areas like Saada, Dahariz, Sahalnut and Awqd.
Demand for local agriculture products go very high during the Khareef season. “So high that we do not get enough coconut, papaya and bananas to meet the demand,” said a roadside fruit seller in Hafa area.
Manuel Levonian, General Manger of Crowne Plaza Salalah, said there is good occupancy from second week of July onwards mainly due to good weather. “We have bookings both from individual and group travellers.
Our halls are booked for upcoming events also. We are expecting good flow during upcoming Eid holidays.”

Kaushalendra Singh