NCSI: Visitors to Salalah prefer road service over air

MUSCAT, Aug 27 – Notwithstanding the risks posed by the trips extending over 12 hours at a time, the majority of travellers to Dhofar during Khareef season still preferred the land mode. According to latest figures revealed by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), around 81 per cent of the travellers used the road against 19 per cent who flew to the popular summer destination. It may be noted that most visitors to Salalah this year were Omanis (567, 973), followed by UAE nationals (73,636) and Saudi nationals (51,552).

Among the GCC countries, only UAE is directly accessed by road while the road linking Oman and Saudi Arabia directly is still other construction. The popularity of road travel to and from Salalah coincides with the few passengers preferring air travel to the Dhofar Governorate despite concerns of traffic accidents. The number of domestic flights to Salalah dropped 14.6 per cent to 2,177 in the seven months of 2018 from 2,549 flights during the same period a year ago.  The number of domestic passengers (both arrival and departures) declined by 3.3 per cent in the first seven months of 2018 to 506,984 to 524,244 during the same period a year ago.

Among Khareef season tourists, 8,058 of them were from Qatar, 19, 591 from other Arab countries, 8,020 from Bahrain and 5,649 from Kuwait. From a total of 784, 450 visitors, 3,216 were from Europe and 49,059 from Asia as of August 27. As of August 25, there was a growth rate of 31.9 per cent in the number of tourists to Dhofar, with Omanis accounting for nearly 72.2 per cent followed by UAE nationals (9.4 per cent) and the rest of GCC nationals (9.4 per cent).

It may be noted that the number of international passengers (both arrival and departures) using the Salalah airport declined by 19.5 per cent to 265,552 in the first seven months of this year, compared to 329,936 passengers same period last year. The number of international flights (both arrivals and departures) at Salalah declined by 28.3 per cent to 2,337 in the first seven months of 2018 compared to 3,621 flights during the same period a year ago.

Vinod Nair