The Omani government, led by the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said has always focused on the tourism industry, given the unique tourism facilities that the Sultanate is blessed with - such as the geological diversity, high mountains, vast deserts, beautiful beaches, wadis as well as rich cultural heritage and glorious history.
Oman is home to some of the world’s greatest monuments that are testimony to the authentic Arabian culture and the friendly nature of Omanis.
The ministry’s efforts to promote Oman as an ideal tourism destination world-over are evident from the increase of tourists visiting Oman, as on September 2017, wherein the number of tourists to have visited the sultanate has reached 2,400 million. The number of hotels have also increased to 364 hotels and 19,832 hotel rooms. It is worth mentioning that the number of tourists visiting the Sultanate in 2016 had reached 3,151 million.
By 2017-2018, the number of hotel facilities is expected to rise due to a number of approvals that were granted by the ministry of tourism to open 81 hotels with 5279 rooms in a number of Governorates. The ministry has also reviewed tourism services application processes, and had restructured the procedures, while introducing an electronic system. The new approach ensures faster issuance of tourism approvals, and also informs the applicant through email or text messages on the status of their application.
The Ministry of Tourism has also launched a campaign inviting proposals from the public and private sector to establish a unique tourism attraction in Muscat that reflects old Omani souqs and neighborhoods in a modern manner, including restaurants, coffee shops and stores. The ministry will grant the winning proposal a usufruct land that can be renewed for 50 years. This initiative comes as part of the objectives of the Omani tourism strategy to preserve the essence of the Omani heritage and promote Oman as a rich and diverse destination. The idea of the competition is to encourage and bring to the forefront Omani architecture that is symbolized by the sultanate’s fascinating forts, castles, houses, neighborhoods and traditional souqs.
This initiative is one among several other of the Ministry’s initiatives and agreements with various entities that aim to develop infrastructure, such as the development of Quriyat Tourism complex agreement, which’s total cost is OMR 385 million, the Naseem Al Sabah development agreement, which extends over 400,000 square meters, costing OMR 400 million.
Through the tourism complexes project, the Ministry aims to achieve its vision of developing the tourism sector as per to the Omani Tourism Strategy 2040, including enhancing infrastructure, increasing the number of hotel rooms and the quality of the hotel services, establishing recreational facilities, and ensuring fulfilling the in-country-value of the community.
The Sultanate is also prepared to host international events and become a worldwide MICE destination, after the establishment of the Oman Convention Bureau that aims to support international and local companies in organizing their events in Oman. The bureau also aims to promote Oman as an ideal MICE destination, especially after the opening of Oman Convention and Exhibition Center and the soon-to-open new Muscat International Airport.
It is noteworthy that the Sultanate will host the 2nd World Tourism and Culture Conference, represented by the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Heritage and Culture in collaboration with the UNESCO, during the 11th-12th of December in the OCEC.
It is also worth mentioning that the tourism industry in Oman is implementing a number of initiatives that aim to diversify economic resources through 14 initiatives, including projects regarding: recreational facilities, natural landscapes, cultural attractions, adventure tourism locations, food facilities, environment investment, annual events calendar, conferences and promotions unit, electronic tourism services, activating the tourism development fund, facilitating the executing of the tourism projects, enhancing customer service in the tourism projects, and visa-granting facilities, to name a few.