Oman airports see 17pc rise in travellers

MUSCAT: The Sultanate witnessed a 17-per cent rise in the number of travellers coming to its airports until the end of December 2016, according to a report published by Colliers International, a Toronto-based global company operating in the hospitality, entertainment and health spas sector. Hailing the strong growth of tourism sector in the country, the report said the launch of SalamAir and opening of a new terminal at Muscat International Airport by this year will further boost the sector. The new terminal has a capacity to handle 12 million passengers per year and Salalah Airport one million passengers a year, said the report.

It said there are six other airports in stages ranging from planning and implementation, including a new airport at Ras Al Hadd. The Sultanate focuses on development of railway network for linking GCC countries at the regional level and between governorates at the domestic level, according to the report. Colliers International report said the growing number of tourists and continued infusion of investment to develop infrastructure in the tourism sector will “increase the demand for hospitality establishments” in the country.

The report said it expects a “continuation of this pace of growth” after massive investments made by government as well as the existence of infrastructure and supporting facilities. It said that despite the competition faced by Oman from other regional tourist destinations, it has been able to distinguish itself as a unique tourist destination, as it embraces many environmental, cultural and heritage landmarks, including four classified as ‘World Heritage Sites’ by Unesco. The report said many marketing campaigns were launched in the past few years, including Omani Tourism Strategy 2040 aimed at the development of tourism.
It said the new strategy focusing on development of Oman as a unique destination can be considered a “comprehensive station” that “meets different needs of visitors, especially young travellers who tend to try new things in their travel”.
The strategy aimed at increasing the contribution of the tourism sector in the gross domestic product from 2.7 per cent in 2015 to 6 per cent in 2040, it said.
The report said the hotels of international brands dominate the supply in the hospitality sector in Muscat, where five-star hotels category constitutes 26 per cent, four-star hotels 17 per cent, in addition to 693 new rooms that were added in 2016.
The report expects the supply to continue with strong rates in the coming years.
It also expects a growing supply of global businesses institutions
at 9 per cent between 2017 and 2020.
It said according to reviews on the Internet, five-star hotels achieved the highest result in guest satisfaction index by 87 per cent compared with hotels in other categories.
The report said with the opening of Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, which plans to host 28 exhibitions this year, the market is expected to see a slight recovery, especially in the hotel occupancy rates. It is expected to reach 58 per cent. — ONA