Sultanate attracts over 3 million visitors in 2016

MUSCAT: The Sultanate achieved in 2016 a significant change in the tourism sector by attracting more than 3 million visitors with a growth rate of 16.2 per cent. This change is based on a well-established and continuous development infrastructure, in addition to projects that boost the tourist attractions potential of the Sultanate. According to the annual report issued by the Ministry of Tourism, 3,042,695 tourists visited the Sultanate last year. The highest growth rate of visitors came through the cruise ships, where 217,153 tourists last year visited the Sultanate on board of these ships, compared to 147,858 tourists, an increase of 46.9 per cent.
The Salalah Khareef Season attracted 652,986 tourists last year, up 26.8 per cent from the previous year, while castles and forts attracted 284,725 visitors, an increase of 14.3 per cent. The number of visitors to Al Jabal Al Akhdhar was 162,499, an increase of 0.3 per cent.
Water ponds in Wadi Bani Khalid attracted 156,119 visitors, up 38.3 per cent, while the Ras Al Ginz Turtle Reserve was visited by 36,070 visitors, an increase of 17.3 per cent.
The number of hotel establishments reached 337 last year compared to 318 in 2015 with a growth rate of 6 per cent. The number of beds increased to 29,358 beds last year compared with 25,966 beds in 2015, an increase of 13.8 per cent.
The report added that the number of rooms and hotel apartments rose to 18,825 rooms and hotel apartments in 2016 compared to 16,695 rooms and hotel apartments in 2015 with a growth of 12.8 per cent.
The report said that in 2016 there was a 54.5-per cent increase in the number of five-star hotels, 15 per cent three-star hotels. One star hotels increased by 13 per cent while the number of four-star hotels stabilised.
The year 2016 was very active with regard to the opening of hotel facilities, where 39 hotels were opened in various governorates of the Sultanate, in addition to 2512 rooms and hotel apartments. 2016 also saw the addition of a new classification under the name of farm houses for some restrooms in order to encourage citizens to benefit from the tourism sector and the utilisation of some facilities suitable for accommodation to be used as an addition to tourist facilities. — ONA