Occupancy levels in tourist camps in winter season in the Sultanate has been in the range of 60 per cent to 70 per cent, thanks to the high tourist influx. The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) has been encouraging the concept of tourist camps, which have helped increase the volume of accommodation in the tourism sector.
Statistics indicate the number of beds provided by ten camps reached 313 from 175 rooms.
Some owners of tourism companies, camps and resorts have said there has been a huge influx of tourists in the Rimal Al Sharqiya. They attribute it to the diversity of resorts in the area.
Talal al Shuaibi, Director of Tourism in North Al Sharqiyah Governorate, said the turnout at the camps reflects the tourists’ desire to enjoy the natural beauty of deserts.
“There is a strong desire among foreign tourists to explore secrets of the sand and the nature,” he said.
Adventure activities are particularly attractive for tourists, who enjoy riding camels, through a package of activities which include passing through golden sands on caravans.
Activities also include desert sports, sand-skiing and four-wheel drive.
He said the tourist camps in Rimal Al Sharqiya are known for their preservation of Omani heritage and traditions. Most of the camps provide packages that include folk art shows.
Al Shuaibi said that Rimal Al Sharqiya is one of the most beautiful places for camping in the Sultanate. It is the most famous tourist destination for those who love tourism and sports activities.
“Those staying in the tourist camps experience the hospitality of Oman. They can choose activities they want to participate in or watch. There are exhibitions of traditional Omani folk art and handicrafts,” he said.
The tourist camps have created jobs for the locals. He said the tourist camps in Rimal Al Sharqiya have been successful in providing hotel facilities besides creating job opportunities for the locals.
Foreign tourists like to explore the deserts, for which they seek the help of locals.
Tourist camps are also helping in the marketing of local products, said Talal al Saidi. “Through these camps, local traditional handicrafts are marketed and innovative methods developed to showcase them as mementoes to tourists returning home.”
Wisal bint Abdullah al Harthy, owner of the luxury Thousand and One Nights Camp, said the camps add value to tourism sector. She said the Thousand and One Nights Camp has 40 traditional tents and four luxury suites.
Tourists can experience traditional desert life. It offers live musical shows by bedouin bands and oud singers, and bedouin barbecue meals prepared in a traditional way.
Guests can also stroll in the desert.
Ali bin Zaher al Hajri, owner of Al Raha Camp, said: “Tourist camps thrive during winter. Activities organised by Al Raha Camp include sunset watch, camel rides, sand motorbiking, walking in the sands, music concerts and folk songs played in the desert atmosphere.
Hamdan al Hajri, owner of Al Maha Camp, said the occupancy ratio during winter was good and it increased further during holidays.
Tourists, especially families, prefer to start their journey from camps. Al Hassan bin Khaled al Souti, a tourist, says many tourists who cannot enjoy the hardships of adventure prefer such camps.
Arwa Khayariyah and her family like this kind of tourism.
They make trips in the middle of January to the camps of Rimal Al Sharqiya.
The camps have an open roof, so visitors can see the stars in the sky.