DUBAI — The World Travel and Tourism Council forecasts that travel and tourism will contribute $1.93 billion to Oman’s total GDP this year, driven by strong tourist arrivals to the Sultanate.
The nation’s flagship carrier, Oman Air, reports a surge in tourism arrivals via its 2011 first-quarter flights. Passenger figures for the period surpassed those of 2008, 2009 and 2010, with March 2011 witnessing 35,000 arrivals compared to around 25,000 in March of the previous year.
Muscat and Salalah are already expanding their respective airports to accommodate passenger traffic of between 48 and 10 million per annum. Arrivals at Oman’s key ports are growing as well, with Muscat alone reporting over 90 cruise ship visits for the 2010 -11 season.
“This is turning out to be another fruitful year for tourism in Oman. There are many projects currently underway to welcome even more travellers to explore our culture, natural treasures and colorful history. We attribute Oman’s appeal to our range of offerings for holiday travellers and adventurers alike, from old forts and seaside palaces to pristine beaches and fun seasonal festivals. We intend to further develop the necessary infrastructure and programmes to support this thriving sector,” said Salem Al Mamari, Director-General of Tourism Promotions at the Oman Ministry of Tourism.
Oman’s Ministry of Tourism, the government body in charge of tapping the Sultanate’s travel and tourism potential, recently joined the International Council of Tourism Partners as an alliance member. It is thus in a better position to globally promote upcoming tourism developments, such as the $2.5 billion “Omagine” project covering a series of Integrated Tourism Complexes in Muscat and the $1 billion tourism resort being built in the port city of Salalah. A future convention and exhibition centre scheduled to open in late 2013 will extend Oman’s appeal to business travellers as well.
Oman is also home to several heritage sites recognised by UNESCO’s International Heritage Preserve Programme Administration. The Ministry of Tourism continues to improve on both the accessibility and protection of these sites as the Sultanate’s contributions to global culture.