In a major boost for Oman’s tourism industry, British Airways has named the Sultanate as its one and only destination of choice in the entire Middle East among 18 international holiday hotspots it has listed as ‘must-see’ destinations in 2018.
The airline has predicted that Oman will be one of the world’s top travel destinations next year, thanks to the country’s natural beauty and architectural heritage.
The endorsement bodes well for Oman’s tourism sector, which attracted more than 3 million tourists last year, recording a growth rate of 16.2 per cent, according to the annual report of the Ministry of Tourism. Until the end of last year, 1,453,336 GCC nationals had visited Oman, followed by 299,568 Indians. Britons accounted for 173,684 visitors in 2016 while Germans numbered 136,950 and Pakistanis 89,258. These five nations contributed the largest number of visitors to Oman.
The top 18 locations were chosen for their importance and relevance next year, from major sporting events to TV series settings, availability of new routes, ease of travel from the UK and general tourism popularity over time.
Claire Bentley, managing director of British Airways Holidays, said: “Savvy holiday-makers are always looking for top tips to explore the latest and coolest destinations. We’ve built up years of experience to offer deals to suit all travellers, from city breaks, to fly drives to multi-city tours.
“Those seeking out the modern face of Arabia while still wanting to sense its ancient roots will enjoy the magic of Muscat — Oman’s charming capital city. The balance between tradition and modernity is well established, with medieval forts, palaces and bazaars sitting beside modern malls and opulent resorts.”
One of the oldest markets in the Sultanate — the Muttrah Souq — according to the airline, is a must-go place to explore in Oman. It said this is “where Muscat comes to life with clouds of incense, glittering gold jewellery and precious Omani artefacts.” Visitors can wander and easily lose themselves in the blur of colour, sounds and smells.
The airline also includes the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque as another place to visit in Oman.
“A magnificent and imposing example of Islamic architecture, the mosque is capable of holding up to 20,000 worshippers. The mosque allows non-Muslims to enter every day except on Friday between 8:30 am and 11 am. All visitors are asked to dress modestly and be aware of the rules when entering and exploring the area.”