Promoting Oman

For the first time, the Sultanate will be hosting the World Travel Awards (WTA) Grand Final Gala Ceremony this year. Oman Airports is a partner for the 26th edition of the mega event scheduled for 28 November, considered one of the world’s most exciting award functions.
And what a better venue to host the premium event than the majestic Royal Opera House Muscat!
What is there in it for the Sultanate? A lot. For instance, from 1998 till 2018, the spectacular Dubai International Airport had won the award for ‘The Middle East’s Leading Airport’; but this year the dazzling Muscat International Airport was voted the best airport for the first time. Further, the Sultanate’s flagship airlines Oman Air made it big bagging the twin awards of Middle East’s Leading Airline — Business Class & Economy Class.
How could Muscat International Airport pip Dubai International Airport for the coveted title is obvious: Best infrastructure, quality customer service, design brilliance and futuristic vision.
The hosting of the premium awards event could be the best promotional programme for the Sultanate to advertise itself as the choicest tourist destination in the region, as the event will see the participation of hundreds of senior representatives of not just major airlines, but hotels and diverse companies operating in the travel and tourism sectors.
Obviously, airports (and seaports) serve as the entry points for global tourists to explore the charm of foreign destinations. As Shaikh Ayman bin Ahmed al Hosani, the CEO of Oman Airports, observed, Oman Airports is a key pillar in the Omani tourism sector, and its sponsorship of the WTA awards would strengthen its efforts to highlight the Sultanate as a key regional player in the travel industry beyond offering it a unique opportunity to attract and encourage decision makers and senior executives of leading firms in the global travel and tourism sector to visit Oman and experience its multi-dimensional natural splendour and potential. Further, the hosting of the event can be a strategic step in enabling the country to achieve some of the major goals of Oman 2040 Vision, by contributing to the growth of its tourism and logistics sectors.
It may be noted that, over the last few years, the Sultanate has been hosting some of the most wonderful international events including the Condé Nast International’s ‘Mindful Luxury’ themed global conference in 2017, the International Optimist Dinghy Association’s (IODA) Asian and Oceanian Championship this year, Ironman 70.3 race — under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism — again this year with over 1,000 athletes from across the world participating, the Laser World Championship in 2013 and 2015, and the annual global sailing event Musannah Race Week that was launched in 2011.
The Conde Nast event saw the participation of world’s renowned fashion and luxury brands, and industry innovators and thought leaders. It offered an unmatched platform for Oman to showcase its natural and cultural diversity, amazing Omani cuisine & hospitality and creative excellence to the modern world, apart from inspiring Oman’s entrepreneurs to think big in the luxury and fashion segment and build global networks. It was undoubtedly a great initiative to project Oman as a fast-emerging luxury brand & shopping destination with an Arab touch in the region.
On the other hand, the high-profile sporting events have been successful in boosting Oman’s image as an ideal destination for hosting premium international sporting events including adventure sports.
While MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Events) is a clear winner as far as offering international visitors a real-time destination experience and thereby popularising Oman, the Ministry of Tourism has been pursuing traditional global promotional methods such as conducting road shows and participating in travel and tourism trade fairs in foreign countries to good effect.
Now, what do the numbers say? Nearly 3.2 million people visited Oman in 2018 as against 3.1 million the year before, and estimates reveal a CAGR of 5% in tourism arrivals to the Sultanate during 2018-2023, taking the number of visitors to 3.5 million.
Thus, a strategic and balanced marketing approach by various stakeholders towards popularising the Sultanate as a unique and authentic tourism destination that is well positioned to offer multi-dimensional travel experience to visitors seems to be quite successful.