Wanted in Salalah: Local guides and better transport

Salalah, Nov 7 – Even as Salalah becomes a favoured destination among world tourists, it is felt the destination needs better facilities/services in terms of transport, guide services and avenues for entertainment. According to the tour operators, visitors expect facilities matching international standards. Ahmed al Afri, Manager of Zahra Tours in Salalah, expressed satisfaction over the growth of tourism in Salalah due to the arrival of cruise liners and increase in the number of tourists every year. At the same time, he reiterated his demand for introducing expert guides for assisting tourists and standard tourist coaches for taking visitors around in Salalah.
“My cruise clients are mainly from Italy, Germany and other European countries. Therefore, there is a huge demand for tourist guides. In the absence of trained guides in those languages, we have to depend on expatriate guides.” He said the tourists, however, look for local guides, as they feel Omani guides can offer more authentic information than expatriates.
Al Afri said a local guide has natural access to more information than an outsider. “Brushing up on information and knowing a new language such as Italian or German can make a big difference in terms of expertise and earnings.” He also raised the transport issue. “There has been a shortage of tourist coaches. The supply is mainly from transport operators whose vehicles travel to different destinations in Muscat.” According to him, these operators keep some vehicles for tourists for the season. “But if you look at the volume of tourists arriving in Salalah in winter, there is no match between demand and supply.” “They (vehicles) are not equipped for site-seeing as they are not real luxury coaches. We need to introduce quality buses for city tours,” he said.
Some German tourists have sought “customised guide services”. They also raised the issue of public transport which, according to them, is “very limited”.
“We wanted to explore the city on our own as there are no security concerns. There are no problems in leaving early or returning late,” they said. They said they could see Salalah “only up to the extent our tour operator took us to”.
The manager of a tour company sought new facilities to entertain tourists such as water sports activities at Salalah’s beaches. “Water sports such as skiing, boat racing, etc, should be introduced,” he said, adding that equally important are activities for children.

Kaushalendra Singh