Stock Oman Muscat skyline
The exemption of 103 country nationals from entry visas to Oman has been making news across the region. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Muscat: The announcement of the exemption of 103 country nationals from entry visas to the Sultanate for a period of ten days has been making news not just in Oman but also across the region, and many places abroad.

Philippe Georgiou, Ex-strategy Consultant at Oman’s Ministry of Tourism, says it truly is a landmark announcement to exempt citizens of 103 nationalities from obtaining a visa to visit Oman, as it’s a great step in diversifying the economy by focusing on tourism. “More facilities should be provided for the visitors in the future, including longer stay to enjoy the country and also a hassle-free movement within the country,” says Georgiou.

“The more time they spend, the more tourism income is generated and the higher the tourism contribution into the national economy. Oman is not the cheapest of place, nor is it an expensive one. While Oman has premium chains like Alila, Anantara and Ritz Carlton, there are also affordable options available with more coming up.”

Assets of their country

Georgiou adds, “Tourism thrives not just on international tourists but on domestic tourism as well, as it forms a very important part of the total tourism landscape. Along with the global travellers visiting Oman, nationals should also feel encouraged to discover the assets of their country. When we get over the COVID-19, hopefully all facilities will be fully functional and this will augur well for tourism in Oman.”

Ryan Cornelio, Associate Director of Sales at Sheraton Oman hotel says while this is the much-needed shot in the arm that will make Oman much more visible in the tourism market, but there needs to be a marked change in tourism infrastructure across the country. “As tourists start exploring the entire country, this need is felt more,” says Cornelio.

“There has to be more tourist friendly facilities across the country. The watchwords for travellers now are affordability, safety and ease of travel,” he adds.

Affordable option

Tushar Sanyal, who is a travel consultant working with a leading group in Oman, says that the initiative has come at the right time, when Europe gets into a cold-grip, and Oman offers an affordable option with a weather reminiscent of lovely European summer. “However the kind of tourism facilities and infrastructure we see in the capital is yet to be translated to the interior Oman which house beautiful towns and villages,” sayd Sanyal.

“The day time trips and half day tours organized by tour companies are priced on the higher side, and we have had groups turning those down due to the prices. There should also be a rapid transport option available like the metro rail in Dubai which will catapult Oman’s position in the global map,” he concludes.

Mohammed Al Hinai, Founder and Director of Aryaf Jibreen Tourism says that with Qatar being the venue of the 2022 World Cup Football, there is a lot of global focus in this region. Oman’s nearness to this event can be a good leverage with this new decision in getting visitors to Oman.