Abu Dhabi: Oman welcomed more than 3.5 million tourists in 2019, an 8.14 per cent increase over 2018 figures.
The growth can be attributed to the continuing efforts made by the Ministry of Tourism to attract more regional and international visitors to the country and achieve the goals set forth in the Omani Tourism Strategy, which also aims to position Muscat as a highly-preferred tourism destination and a city that is interlinked and integrated with other key destinations in the country by 2040, officials said.
Representative office planned in China
Official figures showed that the total number of visitors from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries reached 1.4 million last year, while 436,000 visitors came from India — marking a 21.8 per cent increase, compared to 2018.
During the same period, visitor numbers from China reached 107,000. Statistics showed a 141 per cent growth in the number of Chinese tourists who visited Oman last year, further encouraging the Sultanate to fast-track its plan to open a representative office in China next year to promote tourism to Oman.
The positive tourist flows in 2019 impacted Oman’s gross domestic product (GDP) and further strengthened the country’s status as a unique regional and international tourist destination.
Cruise-ship tourism was a big contributor, with 283,000 passengers — a growth rate of 46.63 per cent, as compared to 2018 — arriving in the sultanate in 2019. Consistent increase has also been noted since the ministry’s efforts to make the local ports, including Sultan Qaboos Port, Khasab Port and Salalah Port, ideal and attractive options for berthing cruise liners.
Following global best-practices
Salem Adi Al Mamari, Director General of the Tourism Promotions Department, Oman Ministry of Tourism, said: “The excellent tourism figures we are seeing now can be attributed to the investments that the government has made in the local tourism sector, the promotion and adoption of global best-practices in the hospitality industry and the development of more world-class hotels in the country.
Al Mamari added that through its charming and beautiful nature, hospitality, unique traditions and rich cultural heritage, the country has been able to promote both its natural resources and also sustainability. Over the years, intensified tourism campaigns have been launched to meet the government’s target of attracting more than 11 million tourists by 2040.
Al Mamari said: “Several campaigns, programmes, projects and strategies have been deployed to drive domestic tourism. Part of our efforts is to diversify our tourism products according to the needs of our visitors. Our aim is to provide them with an experience that cannot be found in other regional destinations.”
He added that Oman had successfully established its reputation as one of the most secure and safest tourist destinations in the world. New hotels
The Ministry stated that a total of 66 new hotels were expected to open between 2020 and 2021. It also revealed that 30 new hotels will rise in the Muscat governorate, seven in Dhofar, nine in Al Dakhiliyah, seven in Al Batinah North, five in Al Dhahirah, three in Al Buraymi, two in Ash Sharqiyah North, two in Al Batinah South and one in Ash Sharqiyah South. These will also contribute to the addition of 6,202 hotel rooms in the sultanate.
In addition, several hotel apartments, camps, heritage inns, green houses and guest houses will be added, with 96 hotel establishments to be launched in 2020 to 2021. The total number of rooms expected to be opened during the same period is 6,942. The number of hotel rooms in Oman increased by 14.5 per cent — from 22,182 in 2018, to 25,408, in 2019.