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Wed 21 Mar 2012 11:23 AM

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Muscat airport arrivals surge 14% to 2.4m in 2011

Travellers from Italy and Russia showed biggest increases

Muscat airport arrivals surge 14% to 2.4m in 2011
The number of passengers arriving at Muscat International Airport rose 14% (Getty Images).

Muscat International Airport
recorded a 14 percent rise in passengers last year to reach 2.4m arrivals, according to official industry figures released on Wednesday.

Statistics from the International
Air Transport Association (IATA) also reported a 13 percent rise in passenger
arrivals to the Omani city of Salalah.

The biggest increase in
passengers was from Italy, which recorded a 77 percent growth in arrivals. Last
year also saw growth in passengers from the UK (seven percent), Germany (six
percent), the Netherlands (15 percent), Belgium (33 percent), Switzerland (28
percent), Russia (50 percent) while arrivals from France remained the stable.

Visitors from the Gulf rose 27 percent to 618,877 passenger movements, data
showed.

“2011 was a challenging year for
our tourism industry, but the IATA data confirms solid growth from our key
tourism markets. This shows that our aligned tourism and aviation strategies
are working, while our wider international airline partners are also growing
their underlying business,” said HE Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary of
Oman’s Ministry of Tourism.

“We are working more
strategically on how to grow our key market segments. Our key message is that
Oman is a unique and authentic Arabic destination with ingredients that make it
a ‘must see’ destination. Both The National Geographic and Lonely Planet
recognised this and are recommending Oman as a destination of choice in 2012,”
she added.

Muscat, which is the Arab Tourism
Capital for 2012, has a number of initiatives to help boost tourism this year,
including the launch of global awareness campaign on BBC Worldwide television
and a reduction in tourism visa fees to attract short break and stopover
arrivals

High profile events will also be
held at the new Royal Opera House Muscat and events such as the Tour of Oman
are due to be staged.

Looking the future, the
completion of construction of the 3,000 seat Muscat Convention and Exhibition
Centre in 2015 will help Oman to capture a stake of the lucrative exhibition
and conference market.

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