By Anil Bhoyrul
The number of tourists visiting Oman has risen over the first five months of the year.
The Sultanate’s tourism industry has shown resilience in the wake of the global slowdown and the flu scare, according to a Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) study, The Times of Oman said today.
According to the paper, “the SCB report says the number of tourist arrivals over the first five months rose 17.5 per cent as compared to last year. The study also reports a 3.9 per cent rise in revenue.”
With its economy diversifying, the Sultanate is increasingly banking on its tourism sector. “The diversification strategy of tourism is paying off. Despite the crisis, early indicators are encouraging,” Philippe Dauba-Pantanacce, economist, Standard Chartered Bank told the paper.
Compared to other GCC nations, Oman is ahead in terms of attracting tourists, industry figures said. “The arrival figures have so far been encouraging. We have managed to retain our share,” Mahesh Ramamurthy, manager, Bahwan Tours told the paper.
“The future looks promising as there has been a rise in inquiries for travel in October to December. With Ramadan ending in third week of September, we can expect a lot of tourists by October,” he said.
The push from the government, especially the Tourism Ministry, has given the sector a boost. The government has plans to spend $17bn, a 10 percent increase in public spending, this year, it was reported.
It is heartening to note that the tourists arrival in Oman is on the increase. However, much needs to be done by the government if they are serious about the tourism industry. For example, they need to relax visa rules, rather than tightening them. Earlier hotels could get visas for the guests booked at their hotels. For some reason, this is stopped. They need to improve efficiency and simplify the procedure at the border posts, so that people do not waste hours at the border. These are just a couple of examples, but there would be many more areas where ministry of tourism needs to work with other concerned ministries to attract more tourists.