Muscat, August 13 – The Ministry of Tourism said it is in the process of preparing a masterplan for the development of a number of tourist sites in the country, including Wadi Darbat and Jebel Akhdar.
The ministry said it has conducted a series of studies in this regard, which will help the parties concerned who keenly follow the tourism sector in Oman.
For Wadi Darbat, the ministry said it aims to prepare a general masterplan to achieve sustainable tourism goals and protect the natural resources of the area with participation from the local community.
Wadi Darbat is one of the main natural attractions visited by tourists to Dhofar Governorate, especially during the khareef season.
Reports point out several negative impacts, including damage to the environment and lack of economic benefits to the local community. There is also a lack of basic tourism facilities and services in the area.
Wadi Darbat has been selected as a destination the ministry plans to develop as an ecotourism destination to conserve the natural environment of the wadi and improve the well-being of the local community.
The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), through its Regional Office for West Asia, is working with the ministry to draw up a vision, master plan and management plan for Wadi Darbat.
The area is located to the east of Salalah in Al Qara mountain range — stretching from the world heritage site of Khor Rori on the coast towards the north for approximately 20 km. Wadi Darbat is located between the wilayats of Taqah and Mirbat — administratively belonging to the Wilayat of Taqah.
Surrounding the Wadi Darbat area is a number of small settlement and hamlets. These include Harkoot, Ghadeit, Aram and others.
Site observations and consultations with tourism industry stakeholders revealed the limited and poorly maintained tourism activities and facilities that can be found in Wadi Darbat despite the increasing number of people
visiting the wadi during the khareef season.
This includes the provision of only one public toilet in the wadi, low quality tourist restaurants in the wadi and surrounding villages, and limited garbage bins. In addition, there are no camping facilities, no picnic sites and tables, and viewpoints designated in the wadi.
A number of recommendations are provided in the study that need to be considered in ensuring the sustainable success for the overall ecotourism project in Wadi Darbat.
These recommendations are:
Generate entrepreneurship opportunities through the local communities’ current activities — dairy production, handicrafts, agriculture and livestock.