OMAN has many attractions as a result of its diverse landscape and unique cultural heritage and is one of the most interesting tourist destinations in the Middle East.
Although the tourism sector in the region faces many challenges, Oman is not affected due to its prevalent stability and security. Instead its peaceful background and abundant natural and historical attractions make it an undiscovered tourism gem.
Apart from the Ministry of Tourism's (MoT) efforts to boost the industry, other industry players are also making an effort to encourage more visitors to the Sultanate. For example, national carrier Oman Air's Mystical Muscat package valid till Dec 15 offers flights to Oman's capital from as low as S$760.
One of the unique features of Oman is its combination of a varied terrain and historic buildings which have played a vital role in its history. It has four World Heritage sites, including more than 500 castles and forts and watchtowers scattered across the plains and valleys and mountains of Oman, each of which has borne witness to a proud past, and has its own story to tell.
Meanwhile, Duqm, on the coast, is set to become one of Oman's flagship tourism projects, quickly turning into a new hot destination for tourists and investors. Located on Oman's magnificent coast with the Arabian Sea it boasts abundant tourist attractions including an 18km coastline of beautiful sandy beaches.
Duqm's unique topography also features several areas of geological significance, where natural processes and historical human settlements have left behind artifacts and rock formations. For example, the Rock Garden is a six-square-kilometre space with unique sandstone and limestone formations.
Apart from these attractions, MoT is also making efforts to boost seasonal tourism to avoid the traditional lull in the hot summer season. This involves featuring regions in Oman such as Dhofar Governorate in the south of the country, for example.
The region is famous for its seasonal weather, locally known as monsoon or "Khareef", when it witnesses its best period, clothed in lush greenery and its hills surrounded by white fog and with light rains drizzling down to cool the air. During this time, it is frequented by many visitors, especially from within Oman and the neighbouring countries.
In addition, the Salalah Tourism Festival takes place from July 15 to Aug 31 every year and is part of the Khareef period that extends from the end of July until the beginning of September.
MoT is making every effort to promote the Sultanate's tourism industry through a variety of means with the aim of promoting economic diversification, preservation of cultural integrity and protection of the Sultanate's environment.
It has a vision that tourism will be developed as an important and sustainable socio-economic sector in a way that reflects the Sultanate's historic, cultural and natural heritage and ethos of traditional hospitality.
It has specific goals of increasing the level of employment of Omani nationals in the sector and thus bring about substantial economic benefits to local communities and residents. Meanwhile, development is to be made in a sustainable way that conserves and protects the natural environment as well as assures respect of customs, traditions and cultural heritage.
All this ties into MoT's marketing campaign to showcase Oman as a place where "Beauty has an address". Marketing and promotional activities include:
- Awareness campaigns to the travel trade and consumers
- Trade and consumer educational and tactical campaigns in concert with Oman Air, Oman's hotels and tour companies
- Events marketing and promotions - including regional and national events
- E-Marketing using the ministry's portal as well as online travel agents, and campaigns hosted by trade partners
- Airline marketing - through partnership programmes with Oman Air and selected airlines
- Travel trade and consumer shows and exhibitions - including exhibition coordination for Omani hotels, tour companies and tourism service providers
- Regional tourism marketing and promotion - with governorates and event organisers.
MoT aims to ultimately boost Oman's share of visitors to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region and increase its recognition as a high quality tourism destination in its own right.