Winter tourism gets a boost in Salalah

By Kaushalendra Singh — SALALAH: Jan. 23 – Salalah is maintaining remarkably positive posture in terms of tourist flow and room occupancy in hotels. With near 100 per cent occupancy in almost all the hotels, the hoteliers are happy lot as they are claiming average occupancy ranging from 96 to 98 per cent this winter season. Without mincing words they are admitting that the year 2017 has started on a very positive note and in fact the outlook for them is far better than 2016.
And surprisingly the charter flights are not the only factor for keeping these hoteliers busy. The hoteliers admit that there has been very good flow of individual tourists as well as ad hoc groups, which are coming in a group of 15-20 people from several European countries. Mehdi Othmani, General Manager Hilton Salalah admitted that the hotel was doing very well this winter season and occupancy as on Monday was 98 per cent. “It is certainly better this time around compared to last year,” he said. The newest entrant in Salalah, Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara, sounded very positive due to good guest response from the GCC and European countries.
James W Hewitson, General Manager of Al Baleed Resort, is happy to receive new guests to Salalah who were looking for luxurious yet homely atmosphere. “I am happy to receive good number of guests from Italy, Germany and France along with GCC neighbours,” he said.
Rotana Resort Salalah also claimed very good response from tourists this winter season and average occupancy throughout the season (September to April) is more than 90 per cent. This means that many days the hotel’s occupancy is 100 per cent.
“The largest number of charter tourists coming from Germany, Italy, Poland and Slovakia are coming to us. Keeping in mind good flow every year, we have customised services for them and we have very good feedback from them,” said Hossam Kamal, General Manager of Salalah Rotana.
Manuel Levonian, General Manager, Crowne Plaza Salalah Resort, termed the beginning of 2017 “very positive” with lots of leisure tourists independent travellers coming to Salalah and staying at the hotel. “Movement of corporate clients is also very promising and going by the trend the first quarter is looking very promising,” he said.
Vish Ranasinghe, General Manager of Al Fawaz Tours, finds this trend on expected lines as “we already had trend coming to us well in advance. Keeping in mind good flow of tourists, the season has been extended by one month, up to May 2017,” he said.
“Besides two German charters with a capacity of 360 passengers per week, there are two weekly charters from Poland with 180 passengers each; one weekly flight from Italy with 180 passengers; one weekly flight with 300 passengers from Italy; and two flights from Slovakia and Czechoslovakia with 50 to 60 passengers per week,” said Ranasinghe.
Equally good is the scenario for cruise ships. Not less than 30 big and small ships are scheduled to call Port of Salalah this season. According to Ahmed Said al Afri, the tourism scene in is developing day by day. “My cruise clients are mainly from Italy and Germany. This leaves huge demand for tourist guides because in the absence of trained tourists in those languages, we have to depend on expatriate guide, while the tourists prefer Omani guides.”
“The movement of charters and cruise ships to Salalah has raised the demand for tourist coaches and hotel rooms. Things are improving and overall, giving job opportunity to local people,” said Al Afri.
Jon Philip, Hotel Manager, Al Fanar admitted to have full occupancy and far better response. He said: “We are fully booked till the end of April this year. We are hoping 2017 a better year, as we added 80 new rooms keeping in mind demand last year. Today all 300, out of a total of 302 rooms are occupied.”