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Sun 12 Aug 2012 11:31 AM

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Oman tourism projects face "financial challenges" - minister

Between 2006 and 2010, 65 percent of private sector tourism projects failed to start, minister said

Oman tourism projects face "financial challenges" - minister
Omani men browse a souk in Muscat.

Tourism projects in Oman are facing tough "financial challenges" with around 65 percent of private sector projects failing to get off the ground due to a lack of development funding, the Sultanate’s tourism minister said in a speech.

"Most of the tourism projects are facing financial challenges,” Ahmed bin Nasser Al Mehrzi, Oman’s Minister of Tourism, said at a Ramadan event organised by the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI).

He said the main challenge was a lack of funding for development, the Times of Oman newspaper said.

Between 2006 and 2010, Al Mehrzi said the Muscat government gave the green light for 41 major tourism projects but little progress had been made in bringing them to fruition.

"Only three projects are operating, nine are under implementation, 19 are not started, five have been shelved and two will start operation this year,” he was quoted as saying. "[As many as] 65 percent of the projects did not see the light. As per the initial plan, these projects would have added 15,000 rooms if implemented. But it did not happen,” he added.

Another issue hampering the industry is a lack of Omani entering the sector. "If we want to compete, we need to have qualified people,” the minister said. “We also found that we need to have a vision for tourism sector. In order to have an integrated planning, we need active an involvement of several agencies like hotels, tour operators and airlines.”

Travel and tourism accounted for up to three percent of Oman’s gross domestic product (GDP) last year and this is set to rise to 5.4 percent this year, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. The industry is expected to directly employ up to 50,000 jobs by 2021, the travel organisation said.

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Ahmed 8 years ago

It is a shame!! Oman is a beautiful country..and actually stands out among other GCC countries with natural beaches, mountains and old heritage. Its high time ...investors notice that tremendous opportunity .