MUSCAT, NOV 25 – As many as 81 new hotel properties offering 5,279 rooms are due to be opened across the Sultanate over the 2017-2018 timeframe, based on approvals granted by the Ministry of Tourism. This is in addition to 364 hotels currently in service, offering 19,832 hotel rooms, the ministry said. The ministry’s efforts to promote Oman as an ideal tourism destination world-over are evident from the increase in tourist traffic into the Sultanate. As of September 30, 2017, an estimated 2.4 million tourists travelled to the Sultanate, compared with 3.151 million visitors over the 12 months of 2016.
The tourism sector in Oman is one of the vital pillars of economic sustainability. The Omani government, under the wise leadership of His Majesty the Sultan, has focused the development of the tourism industry by harnessing its unique attributes in the form of its geological diversity, high mountains, vast deserts, beautiful beaches, wadis as well as rich cultural heritage and glorious history.
Oman is home to some of the world’s greatest monuments that are testimony to the authentic Arabian culture and the friendly nature of Omanis.
To help attract investment into the sector, the ministry has introduced an electronic system for processing all applications effectively and expeditiously. The new approach ensures faster issuance of tourism approvals, and also informs the applicant through email or text messages about the status of their application.
The Ministry of Tourism has also launched a campaign inviting proposals from the public and private sector to establish a unique tourism attraction in Muscat that reflects old Omani souqs and neighbourhoods in a modern manner, including restaurants, coffee shops and stores.
The ministry will grant the winning proposal a suitable site on a long-term lease that can be renewed for 50 years. This initiative comes as part of the objectives of the Omani tourism strategy to preserve the essence of the Omani heritage and promote Oman as a rich and diverse destination.
The idea of the competition is to encourage and bring to the forefront Omani architecture that is symbolised by the Sultanate’s fascinating forts, castles, houses, neighbourhoods and traditional souqs.
Earlier this year, the ministry signed agreements for the Qurayat Tourism complex involving an investment of RO 385 million, as well as the Naseem Al Sabah development costing around RO 400 million.
Through the development of tourism complexes, the ministry aims to achieve its vision of developing the tourism sector in line with the Omani Tourism Strategy 2040, which calls for enhancing infrastructure, increasing the number of hotel rooms and the quality of the hotel services, establishing recreational facilities, and generating value to the community.
The Sultanate is also gearing up to host international events and become a worldwide MICE destination, after the establishment of the Oman Convention Bureau that aims to support international and local companies in organising their events in Oman.
The Sultanate, represented by the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Heritage, will host the 2nd World Tourism and Culture Conference in collaboration with the Unesco, during December 11-12 at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The tourism industry is also implementing the following 14 tourism-related initiatives: developing recreational facilities, natural landscapes, cultural attractions, adventure tourism locations, food facilities, environment investment, annual events calendar, conferences and promotions unit, electronic tourism services, activating the tourism development fund, facilitating the executing of the tourism projects, enhancing customer service in the tourism projects, and visa-granting facilities.