Promoting Salalah as a top tourist destination

BADER AL KIYUMI – baderalkiyumi@hotmail.com – Dhofar Governorate, famous for its seasonal weather, is preparing to receive the autumn season which begins astronomically from today, June 21.
Locally known as ‘Khareef,’ the place is clothed in lush greenery and hills surrounded by white fog. Light rains drizzle to cool the air.
During this time, visitors especially from within Oman and the neighbouring countries frequent the many holiday spots. Salalah Tourism Festival takes place for almost three months from June till mid-September.
During this period Salalah is swathed in a landscape of greenery amidst a beautiful ambiance.
The Ministry of Tourism provides information and guide including brochures and maps for the visitors through ministry centres when one enters Salalah. The information includes details about hotels, restaurants, markets, apartments and many tourist attractions.
Omani and Gulf tourists are already preparing themselves to visit this southern tip of the Sultanate to escape the summer heat.
Dhofar, with its beautiful and charming climate, is a unique place in the Arabian Peninsula. It beckons tourists from different countries especially Gulf countries. Its temperature in the summer varies between 18 to 30 degrees while all other Gulf countries the temperatures sizzle at from 40 to 50 degrees.
The Ministry of Tourism announced its readiness for the Khareef season by implementing several service projects and confirmed that the visitor’s facilities were being maintained.
Poet Stanley Horowitz once said, “Winter is an etching, spring a watercolour, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.”
During my visit abroad, the first aspect asked when I am introduced as belonging from the Sultanate, is about Salalah. They know about the unique place in the Arabian Peninsula. They know its familiar autumn season. The Omani media has also gone to play a vital role to publicise the Kharee Festival held in the governorate year after year.
However, we need to do more to tap large number of tourists not only from Arab but also from other Asian and European countries.
More number of airlines must come out with attractive packages to enthuse tourists.
Last week, I came across a statement from the National Ferries Company which said that the trip between Qatar and Oman will take more than eight hours. I was wondering why the ferry did not go to other neighbouring countries during Khareef season to encourage tourists to visit Salalah.
Travel package is considered to be important to attract visitors from different countries especially in places like Salalah as it is located far away from the capital. We need to increase our cooperation with travel agencies to market the city.
In 2015 during my visit to Greece for journalists on a junket, they invited travel agencies and marketers. The aim of the visit was to know Greece particularly its islands which are located far away from Athens.
We travelled by cruise and the promoters worked hard to advertise travel spots of their place.
Rightly, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) has met private and government stakeholders in the Governorate of Dhofar to assess preparations for the annual festival and tourism season.
Recently, the Ministry of Tourism also announced that the number of hotels and apartments rooms have increased. But still we need more apartments for the season.
Some said it was difficult to have more because the monsoon season is only for two months. But we have to keep in our mind Salalah has a winter tourism during Khareef. Thousands of European tourists visit and if we market it well, we can definitely draw more visitors.
When I met Omanis or from GCC countries during the Khareef, they expressed happiness and are satisfied about the services provided by the Ministry of Tourism, Dhofar Municipality, ROP and other authorities who provide their services to visitors.
The ministry meeting also discussed readiness of various government and private entities to provide materials, goods and services throughout the season. This is really brilliant on their part.
Authorities in Salalah have also reviewed preparations for the season, especially during Eid al Fitr holidays and Salalah Tourism Festival. All measures are taken to ensure smooth flow of traffic and to maintain safety of citizens, residents and visitors.
The Directorate of Tourism in Dhofar also reviewed the preparedness of the hotels in Salalah and its adjoining areas. It directed all the big and small hotels to maintain the best possible cleanliness and services during the season.

Oman Observer

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