New visa rules give tourism push

MUSCAT, Oct 15 – With the new visa rules, tourist arrivals in the Sultanate, especially in the Dhofar Governorate, will witness a surge in the coming season, said Ahmed bin Nasser al Mehrzi, Minister of Tourism.
“Citizens from many countries will now be able to benefit from the ease in visa norms, which on the other hand, will give a boost to tourism in Oman,” the minister said on the sidelines of Oman Food and Hospitality Exhibition here on Monday.
The Sultanate recently eased visa rules for Russia, Iran and China, allowing their citizens to get tourist visas without an Omani sponsor.
Citizens from these countries need to apply for their Oman entry visas through a new online portal launched a few months ago as Omani authorities move to phase out visa-on-arrival desks at airports.
“The decision, along with the launch of charter flights between Salalah and Moscow, will increase the number of tourists visiting the country,” Al Mehrzi said at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre. It is a positive sign that Salalah is emerging as a favourite destination for tourists from these countries, he said.
The ministry is making all-out efforts to promote Dhofar as a tourist destination. The governorate is set to receive 5,400 Russian tourists in the upcoming winter season.
“With the opening of more avenues such as Russia, tourism activity will significantly increase in Dhofar. The first chartered flight from Moscow has already landed in Salalah with 300 passengers,” he said.

In the beginning of this month, Hossam Eidin Mahmoud, Operations Supervisor, Meeting Point, an international tour operator, had said these Russian charters would start their Salalah operations from October 15 with 189 tourists every week.
Charters from Germany have discontinued this season, but the number of German tourists is likely to remain the same as that of previous years because they are likely to take Oman Air, Fly Dubai and Emirates to visit Salalah.
Unlike the weekly arrivals in the past, Germans are likely to arrive daily by Oman Air, Fly Dubai and Emirates.

SAMUEL KUTTY