Oman welcomed more than 3 million tourists in 2018
GCC visitors surpasses 1.4 million
Oman’s Ministry of Tourism is placing a stronger emphasis on the recent surge in popularity that Oman has witnessed in order to help increase awareness and promote the country as a key tourism destination – throwing the spotlight on what makes the Sultanate a diverse and rich destination at a series of global tourism events and travel fairs. Oman welcomed more than 1.4 million GCC citizens last year, with the total number of tourists exceeding 3 million, whilst almost 200,000 cruise ship passengers visited the Sultanate.
The number of hotels also grew by 12.3 percent in 2017-18, resulting in a 7.8 percent growth in the amount of rooms available in the country. The most resounding growth is the number of Khareef Salalah visitors, which was recorded at 28 percent. Recent industry reports have projected a sustained annual increase in these figures as Oman’s reputation for hospitality, culture and heritage continues to grow.
The Ministry is highlighting its 2018 achievements at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the leading global event for the Middle East inbound and outbound travel industry, which is running until the 1st of May at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Commenting on the achievements; Salem Bin Adey Al Mamari, Director General of Tourism Promotion, Oman Ministry of Tourism, said: “The recent growth of the tourism sector in the Sultanate is very pleasing and is the direct result of sustained campaigns, initiatives and programs by the Ministry to raise the country’s profile and promote investment in the sector. These efforts fall in line with the Oman Tourism Strategy to welcome 11 million tourists by 2040.”
Al Mamari continued: “The Ministry maintains key strategic partnerships within both the private and the public sector and this helps us to promote the tourism industry by introducing new and unique attractions, services and promotions. Our presence at global exhibitions like ATM demonstrates our commitment to showcase Oman throughout an array of international markets and position the Sultanate as a destination that can be visited at any time of the year, regardless of season. ATM is the global hub for the travel trade. The event will provide the perfect stage to showcase Oman, create further awareness and allow us to explore new strategic partnerships with public and private sector entities.”
A series of intensive campaigns, programs and initiatives that the Ministry has conducted to boost Oman’s regional and international profile have all contributed to the positive response and interest. The increase in visitors has also credited to the visa application process, which has been enhanced with the implementation of a new e-visa system that is among the safest in the world. Under the new platform, the entire process keeps pace with technical advancements through a simplified approach in obtaining visas. Furthermore, the strategic expansion and renovation of Muscat International Airport has increased capacity to accommodate the increase of visitors in the country.
It has been revealed by the Ministry in a previous statement that 31 hotels, motels and resorts are scheduled to open this year, boosting the hospitality sector’s portfolio with more than 3260 rooms. Reports have also revealed that 595 apartments, 13 green lodges, 18 guest houses and 2 Heritage House projects are also currently in development. Furthermore, leading hotel brand JW Marriott has announced that it is set to open maiden establishment in Oman in the third quarter of 2019. The 304-room five-star hotel, which is being built by the Oman Tourism Development Company, is strategically located besides the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre.
There will be 21 entities in total from the Sultanate participating at this year’s ATM, including The Sama Resort and Spa, Khimji’s House of Travel, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, Grand Hyatt Muscat, Aitken Spence Resorts ME LLC, Millennium Resort –Mussanah, Outdoor Adventure Tourism, The Chedi Muscat, Kempinski Hotel, Crowne Plaza and Six senses Zighy- Bay resorts. In addition, Al Bustan Palace, InterContinental IHG, Bahawan Tourism LLC, Shanfari Hotels & Resorts, Al Fawaz Tours, Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, Hormuz Grand, Muscat Hills Resort, Oman Air, Salam Air, Dhofar Municipality and the Alila Al Jabal Akhdar Resort will also all feature prominently throughout the event.
The Ministry will target a variety of segments such as adventure tourism, cultural tourism, family tourism and business and corporate tourism. With the increase in tourism market-based representatives, the Ministry also aims to increase direct flights to and from Oman in the near future and diversify tourism offerings to include leisure, travel and MICE segments.