Successful events lead to Oman’s high satisfaction rating
AN ONLINE survey conducted by Bayt.com, the leading online employment portal in the Middle East, showed that Muscat is considered the second best city in the Mena region.
Oman Ministry of Tourism attributes its success and recognition to the many successful events that have taken place in the sultanate in the past few months.
The recently concluded Muscat Festival 2011 was a huge success and showcased the city, and the entire country, as a leisure and lifestyle destination of choice in the Middle East.
Oman also hosted the second edition of the Tour of Oman, which featured 16 teams comprised of 128 of the world’s best cyclists in a six-stage, 848-km race, and the Extreme Sailing Series. The upcoming Salalah Tourism (Khareef) Festival also promises to be better than ever this year.
Salem Al Mamari, director general of tourism promotions, Oman Ministry of Tourism says: “According to recent IATA data, 2010 has been a record year for visitor arrivals to Muscat International Airport with 2.08 million travellers representing year-on-year growth of 13 per cent. Furthermore, our figures have shown that the number of cruise ship visits to Muscat for the current 2010-11 season jumped from 78 to 94, with the number of passenger arrivals reaching 231,100, or 72 per cent higher than 2009. The ministry expects passenger arrivals to Muscat to exceed 300,000 by 2015.”
Oman is also developing the Mice market and aiming to attract more tourists with the new world-class Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre which cost more than RO400 million ($1 billion). Located near Muscat International Airport, this 2-million-sq-m development includes a 10,000 seat auditorium and four hotels with a total of 1,000 rooms. It also features traditional Omani architecture and accommodates banqueting halls, a mall, a meeting hall for 3,000 people, an exhibition area, 200 serviced apartments and parking for 5,500 vehicles.
“Our mission is that tourism will facilitate economic diversification, preservation of cultural integrity and protection of the environment of Oman. Our vision is that tourism will be developed as an important and sustainable socio-economic sector of the sultanate,” said Al Mamari.
The Ministry of Tourism will participate at this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM), where it plans to leverage the networking potential of the event and showcase Oman’s expanding tourist offerings and investment opportunities.
“The exhibition serves as an integral component of our strategy to penetrate new international markets and boost awareness about Oman’s robust growth prospects,” said Al Mamari.
“We are confident that this year’s ATM will yield benefits for Oman in terms of increasing business potential and networking with strategic partners for a variety of different segments of tourists.
“Usually there is an increase in business of between 10 to 15 per cent annually and we would expect the same figure, however within the new market there are some trends which lead us to expect the figure to increase even more this year – especially from the Middle East region.”
Winter or summer Salalah lures visitors round the year.
Situated in the Dhofar region amidst tropical surroundings and Rocky Mountains, Salalah readies itself for a busy summer period ahead. The second largest town in Oman has been witnessing most of the tourist influx. Though the right time to visit Salalah is around the season of monsoon, in the months of June to September the city is still popular with tourists who come for culture and heritage and visit the ancient city in April or May.
The tourism industry of Salalah enjoys a major boom during the Khareef season. During this period, lush greenery envelopes the mountains and rocky terrain. A host of sightseeing spots in Salalah is available including the Frankincense Trail, Nabi Ayoub’s Tomb and the pristine beaches that spread along several kms. Visitors can also see a number of birds near the beaches.