Salalah poised for robust winter season

SALALAH, Sept 25 – With a large number of cruises and charter flights lined up for Salalah, the city is poised for a robust winter season 2017-18. An estimated 31 big cruises are to call Port of Salalah, while Salalah Airport is to receive 56 charter flights in the season. The season is to pick up from October and continue till May 2018.
Among the cruises, which are lined up till December this year are, Costa neoRiviera, AIDAstella, Boudicca, Nautica, Azamara Journey, Seven Seas Voyager, Star Legend, Costa neoClassica, Crystal Symphony, Silver Spirit, Albatros, and Costa Mediterranea. Cruises operating from January 2018 to May include, Artania AIDAcara, Costa Victoria,Costa Luminosa AIDAstella Amade, Silver Whisper, Seabourn Encore, Azamara Journey, Crystal Serenity, Nautica, and Seven Seas Voyager.
Cruise tourists from wide range of countries like Italy, Germany, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and Denmark and many more visit Salalah after stopover at major ports and cities.
The cruise tourists excite local tour operators, guides and shopkeepers, while the charter tourists are reason for excitement for hoteliers in the city. The hotels depend hugely on the tour operators and tour guides for ground, sightseeing and transport related business.
Charters are also lined up in a big way with this season’s current outlook at 33,520 tourists in 56 charters from Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Italy.
The charters involved last season were 64 from Germany, 20 from Italy and 24 from Slovakia. Some tourists from Czech Republic chose to come as individual tourists or in small groups.
This season large planes have been hired to bring tourists to Salalah from above mentioned destinations. Though the number of charters has reduced, the tourist booking is quite high.
Mostafa Hussein, General Manager of Meeting point Oman, is happy with the trend and confirmation of six weekly flights from Germany, Italy, Slovakia and Czech Republic.
“We are expecting more bookings for the season that is to begin from October 17 till May 18. The first charter flight of the season is scheduled on October 17 with 180 mixed tourists from Slovakia and Czech Republic,” he said.
Though the number of charter flights is likely to reduce by half this season, the flow of tourist is to increase due to introduction of large flights on the route.
Meanwhile, a section of tour operators sought affordable, convenient and smart public transport system in the city. This demand is raised time and again by the tourists through their tour operators, personal blogs and other sources.
“The tourists complain lack of standardisation in taxi service, as there has been no uniformity in taxi interiors and most of them have got their seats laminated with thick transparent plastic. It not only makes the tourists uncomfortable, it is unhygienic also. One tourist developed rashes due to the plastic cover’s direct contact with her skin,” said a tourist guide.
“The tourists are generally very appreciative about the destination, its heritage, culture and people but do not feel like exploring the destination fully in the absence of a proper public transport system,” he said.

Kaushalendra Singh