3.5% growth in visitors to Oman in 2017: MoT

Muscat - 

The annual report of the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) shows that the number of tourists to the sultanate grew by 3.5 per cent to reach 3.3mn in 2017 compared to 2016.  The number of visitors by cruise ships grew by 2.3 per cent to reach 222,000 in 2017 compared to 217,000 visitors in 2016.

The number of licensed hotel facilities grew by 8.9 per cent from 337 in 2016 to 367 in 2016. The number of hotel rooms also increased by 9.3 per cent from 18,825 in 2016 to 20,581 in 2017. The number of beds increased by 7.6 per cent from 29,538 in 2016 to 31,774 in 2017.

The figures are a result of the economic diversification procedures adopted by the sultanate to promote the tourism sector. The report also shows that in 2016, MoT has given initial approvals for 89 hotel facilities which will add more 7,749 hotel rooms; 18 hotel facilities are one star, 17 are two stars, 36 are three stars, 15 are 4 stars and three are five stars. 

The ministry also gave initial approvals to 32 serviced apartments taking the total to 243. The validity of the licence is one year to allow potential investors to get approval of other organisations. The report also said that the initial implementation approvals for the hotel facilities are valid up to the end of 2017. The figure includes 32 normal and super class facilities, nine guesthouses, 18 green hostels, one cultural hostel, seven camps and two resorts.

The facilities will provide 330 hotel rooms. Initial approvals were given to 89 hotels across the different governorates. These include two five-star hotels in the Governorate of Muscat, one five-star hotel in the Governorate of North Batinah and 15 four-star hotels including one in the Governorate of Muscat, two in the Governorate of Dhofar, one in the Governorate of North Batinah and one in South Batinah.

The ministry has also given initial approvals for 36 three-star hotels, 17 two-star hotels and 18 one-star hotels. MoT also issued 421 licences for different activities in 2017 compared to 380 in 2016. The figure includes 45 licences for hotel facilities, 245 licences for companies including travel and tourism agencies.

The ministry also granted 132 licences for tourist guides. The annual report also shows that the number of visitors to Salalah during the khareef season in 2017 stood at 644,931 of which 71.1 per cent were from Oman. The other GCC states includes UAE (8.9 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (6.1 per cent). Visitors from the other GCC states stood at 3.3 per cent. Omani and other GCC visitors constituted 89.4 per cent of the total number of visitors. Visitors from the rest of the world constituted 10.7 per cent.

The report also said that visitors to Jebel Akhdar increased by 43.4 per cent in 2017 to 233,012 compared to 162,499 in 2016. Foreign visitors constituted 45.1 per cent of the total number of visitors to Jebel Akhdar compared to 44.8 per cent from the sultanate. While 6.6 per cent were from the other GCC states, 3.4 per cent were from other Arab countries.

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