By Claire Valdini
Pull of the world's top golfers would be a tourism boost, says The Wave CEO
The Wave, a luxury housing project in Oman’s capital, is in talks with the European Tour to stage a PGA golf event at its Greg Norman designed golf course, its CEO has told Arabian Business.
The $3.5bn state-backed project, which already plays host to The Tour of Oman and the Extreme 40, said a PGA golf event would serve as an additional pull for tourists to the Gulf state.
“We are positioning the course as such that we will be looking to hold PGA events. That’s certainly our intention. There are discussions on the possibly of holding PGA events [at the course],” said Michael Lenarduzzi.
“Every year there is the Muscat Festival, part of which is The Tour of Oman and we have the Extreme 40 sailing – we are the home of Oman Sail – so this is all part of a strategy to hold events and drive tourism to Oman,” he added.
The 18-hole course is expected to be completed in three weeks, said Lenarduzzi. “We have 14 holes open at the moment, another two opening on Wednesday and the remaining two will be open in three weeks time.
“At the moment we have about 240 members but that will probably swell to about 450-500… over the next two years,” he said.
Oman is ramping up its investment in tourist attractions as it aims to draw 12 million tourists to the country by 2020. Several projects, including a $1bn resort in Salalah and a $1bn conference centre in Muscat, are nearing completion.
Tourism last year accounted for 2.6 percent of its GDP. Tourism operators in December said a record number of visitors flocked to Oman during the first two months. Figures from the ministry of tourism show Oman received 220,000 tourists in October and November, up 50 percent compared with the same period in 2010.
The Gulf state said in February it is studying 30 locations around the country to look at their potential to be developed into tourism resorts and attractions. Locations such as the Al Hoota, Majlis al Jinn and Suhoor Caves are being looked at for potential tourism development, Haitham Mohammed Ghasani.
The country earlier in the year slashed the cost of its tourist visas by up to 75 percent in a bid to boost the number of tourists.
The Wave’s golf course is part of The Wave project, the sultanate’s highest-profile real estate development, featuring 4,000 homes, hotels and a marina.
Partners in the project include the government-controlled Waterfront Investments, the National Investment Funds Company and UAE-based developers Majid Al Futtaim Properties.
The Wave, the first real estate project in the Sultanate to allow 100 percent foreign ownership of freehold property, is scheduled for completion in 2018.