Oman to extend validity of tourist visas, offer tax relief to hotels

Muscat: Ahmed bin Nasser al Mahrizi, Minister of Tourism, said that tourists unable to come to the Sultanate due to the epidemiological situation – despite having paid tourist visas, their visas will be replaced and extended.

The minister said the validity of not used tourist visas issued from March 1, 2020, until August 31, 2020, will be extended until March 21.

Ahmed bin Nasser al Mahrizi, Minister of Tourism, speaking at the press conference said that the tourism sector was affected like other sectors, due to its link with air traffic and travel. When air traffic is suspended, it is normal that the entire sector will be affected.

The tourism sector recovers quickly, as happened in previous experiences.

The report on the expected losses and impact on general indicators – revenues, visas, tourism and conferences – was prepared and submitted in April.

A package of facilitations was announced by the committee in many sectors, including the tourism sector.

We decided to exempt hotels form the tourist fees, which usually go to the state treasury through the Ministry of Tourism, because of the pandemic, provided that they will pay them after recovering from the pandemic.

The Ministry has prepared a comprehensive report on the expected economic impacts of the pandemic on the tourism sector.

The Ministry of Finance, in agreement with the Ministry of Tourism, issued an announcement on the fees imposed on hotels: the fees that are paid by customers, not those imposed on the hotels.

We can’t talk now about the losses resulted because the tourist season in the Sultanate ends at the end of April, unlike other countries where the tourist season begins in the summer, except for Dhofar Governorate, Jabal Al Akhdar, and some coastal areas. The tourist season will start as usual in September, October, and November.

Nearly RO80 million will be lost compared to the last tourism year in Salalah, but the decision to close the Dhofar was taken to save people’s lives.

The Ministry of Tourism has designed a plan for hotels so that once a decision to lift the ban on movement is taken they are ready to receive tourists. It also prepared a plan to encourage tourists to come to Oman, but that will depend on the improvement of the emerging situations.

Countries should support the tourism sector during these turbulent times including tourist companies and hotels to reduce the impact of the pandemic on them.