Not just a fragrance

Apart from its treasured value for distinctive fragrance and medicinal properties, frankincense holds enormous potential for tourism growth in Oman. Creating healthy sustainable tourism products and services from Oman’s frankincense may help preserve and protect this crucial resource, points out a scholar at Sultan Qaboos University.
“Frankincense is viewed rather narrowly in relation to the country’s tourism”, notes Dr Debra Enzenbacher, Associate Professor in the Tourism Department of the College of Arts and Social Sciences.
Frankincense is collected from a rare species that thrives in isolated wadis in the Governorate of Dhofar.
In a research paper presented at the recent international conference on frankincense and medical plants, she underlines the need to change such a view.
According to Dr Debra, creating healthy sustainable tourism products and services from frankincense may help preserve and protect this crucial resource along with its associated cultural heritage, production and harvesting techniques and place in local economies.
“This beneficial natural product is underused at present and holds enormous potential for healthy multisensory and other valuable spin-off tourism products and services”, she points out.
Increasing and enhancing the sensory dimensions of frankincense tourism in Oman offers the prospect of developing this form of tourism further in places where the precious product is produced.
Frankincense, also called olibanum, now has applications in the cosmetics and food industry, in health foods and supplements, in prophylaxis and in medicines.
Dr Debra, in her study proposes a range of new tourism products and services drawing on Oman’s frankincense.
“This will help develop new economic pathways for the industry, help protect, preserve and promote local culture along with this natural product’s heritage and production value chain as well as foster greater cooperation between stakeholders within Oman”, suggests in the paper.
In another study, Dr Mehdi Jaaffar highlights the absence of scientific standards to measure the cost of Omani frankincense production. It is the main source of income and the only exported product from the governorate.
Omani frankincense has been known since the 16th century BC as the main source of olibanum in the old world, yet Omani literature lacks scientific research that traces the cost of producing and the income derived from it.
The researcher cites the ‘just-in-time’ technique of production as one of the best modern costing systems applicable to olibanum manufacturing that could maximise the overall market value, and hence, profitability and ideal tree exploitation.
“One way to maximise profitability is through a manufacturing process to add to other industries, not just frankincense and extracts of oil, in order to create more added value”, he proposes in the paper.