Tourists volume spurt spruce up public transport demand

By Kaushalendra Singh — SALALAH: Jan. 17 – With growing volume of tourists, Salalah is facing a new challenge of affordable, convenient and smart public transport system. This demand is raised this time and again by the tourists through their tour operators, personal blogs and other sources.
Besides huge rush during the Khareef season, the demand for Salalah is growing up among European tourists who come to Salalah either in charter flights or in cruise ships.
The Port of Salalah (PoS) received 35 cruises carrying 28,295 tourists from different parts of the world between November 2015 and March 2016, while an estimated 40,000 tourists are expected in  Salalah in 2016-17 season only in charters from Germany, Slovakia, Czechoslovakia, Italy and Poland. Besides, there are individual tourists who come from different destinations. The tourists complain lack of standardisation in taxi service, “as there has been no uniformity in taxi interiors and most of them have got their seats laminated with thick transparent plastic. It not only makes our journey uncomfortable, it is unhygienic also. My daughter developed rashes due to the plastic cover’s direct contact with her skin,” said German tourist Sophia.
“Moreover the fares are not standard. In the same group someone gets cheap ride while others get expensive ones… thus we feel cheated sometimes when we decide to explore the destination on our own,” she said.
Agreeing with the situation, another tourist said the visitors have very limited options when it comes to public transport. “Either we have to depend fully on our tour operators or on car rentals. It becomes very difficult to explore a new city because you are not familiar with roads and places. Moreover, for short duration it does fit into our scheme of things.”
The tourists are generally very appreciative about the destination, its heritage, culture and people but do not feel like exploring the destination fully in the absence of a proper public transport system.
Some representatives of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) are in agreement of the situation and call for a tangible solution. A wide range of issues pertaining to transportation of goods and services including lack of proper public transport system in Salalah had come up for discussion at the OCCI recently. The meeting was attended by the stakeholders of the transport sector and officials concerned.
One of the members even mooted the idea of enhancing public transport system in Salalah by putting up proper bus stands on the lines of other developed cities in the world. The participants put stress on standardising taxi fares based mainly on distance and location.