Surge of 1,600 hotel rooms in next 3 years

By Vinod Nair — MUSCAT: Dec. 26: The Ministry of Tourism has released a list of hotels that will be opened for both domestic and international tourists over the next two to three years. These hotels, ranging in the three to five-star categories, will offer as much as 1,600 rooms during this period, as per the estimates provided by the ministry.
This is in addition to the series of 1,697 hotels expected in the range of four to five categories.
The arrival of more hotel rooms into the market is expected to boost the Ministry of Tourism’s plans to have a double-digit growth in international tourism arrivals over the next couple of years.
The opening of new Muscat International Airport, the expansion of Oman Air and the arrival of the second budget airline, which will bring more direct flights to Oman, are also key to the tourism expansion plans.
The four-star Royal Tulip Hotel in Ghubra will have 180 rooms and is expected to open in Q4, 2017.
A three-star hotel in Greater Muttrah with 120 rooms is expected to open in Q2, 2017, while the four-star Sundus Rotana Hotel in Airport Heights with 215 rooms is expected to open in Q3, 2017.
The three-star Hilton Garden Inn Hotel by ASAAS in Al Khuwair with 232 rooms is expected to open in Q2 2018. The five-star InterContinental Hotel at Muscat Hills with 244 rooms is expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2019.
A three-star hotel with 152 rooms is expected to open in Bausher in the first quarter of 2017, while a camp project in Jaalan Bani Bu Hassan is expected to open in mid-2017.
A four-star hotel with 175 rooms is expected to open in the second quarter of 2019.
The Wave Hotel Plaza in Al Mouj with 187 rooms will open by the end of 2017, which will be operated by Shaza Hotels. The four-star Dhabab Resort in Qurayat with 95 rooms will open in mid-2019.
The tourism ‘Lab’ of Tanfeedh programme had suggested that Oman needs to increase its international tourist arrivals from the current 1.9 million to 2.7 million. It has also sought special visa facilities for new target markets, which need to be implemented immediately.
It added that tourism represents in average over two per cent of Oman’s total GDP over the last six years.
The Lab findings said, “Oman is ranked fifth among GCC countries in overnight tourist arrivals and attracts only four per cent of the 49 million visitors to the region.
Setting a target by 2020, there is a need for investment worth RO 1.8 billion along with a target of 10,000 more jobs for Omanis in the tourism sector.
Setting the target, the Lab has set around 2.1 million international tourists by 2017, which will increase to 2.7mn by 2020.
It said the Oman’s tourism sector’s most serious challenges include insufficient hotel rooms, lack of qualified tourism staff, low hotel price competitiveness, demanding visa requirements, underperforming quality of air transport, narrow air or surface transport and lack of prominence for business tourism.