Oman looks to compete in tourism with regional countries
The Sultanate of Oman enjoys numerous tourism outlets allowing to rank first regionally according to the travel guide “Lonely Planet”, and among the top 10 recommended destinations for travel in 2022.
The Omani tourism sector has recorded significant growth, and the total number of tourist arrivals to the country is expected to reach 250,000 by the end of 2022.
Also, hotel room revenues in the Sultanate will increase by more than 33 percent due to the easing of restrictions imposed by the epidemic, according to website figures by Statista.
Growth in numbers
Against these promising expectations, more than 26,000 visitors from Europe arrived in January 2022, compared to some 3,584 visitors in the same month in 2021, according to data from the National Center for Statistics and Information. The number of visitors from Gulf countries reached 5,548 visitors in January this year, compared to only 1,497 in January 2021, an increase of 270.6%.
Hotel statistics in Oman also showed a sizable increase in hotel revenues in January 2022, compared to the same period last year. The growth in 3- and 5-star hotels witnessed a growth of 91.6 percent over 2021 and resulted in revenues of 12.264 million riyals. In contrast, the number of Asian visitors decreased by 3.2 percent in January 2022 compared to the same period in January 2021.
In addition to its natural beauty, rich heritage and distinguished location between the East and, the Sultanate has taken measures to develop the tourism sector. Growth is driven by government financial support to develop the sector, as the Ministry of Economy in Oman recently announced additional allocations of 200 million Omani riyals ($520.2 million) to increase the financial liquidity of the current year’s budget with the aim of stimulating the non-oil sectors, bringing the total amounts allocated for disbursement. 1.1 billion Omani riyals ($2.9 billion).
According to the estimates of the general budget for 2022, spending for the year was about 12.1 billion riyals ($31.5 billion) and revenues are expected at 10.6 billion riyals ($27.6 billion).
The increase in allocations will reflect positively on the performance of non-oil economic sectors and the diversification efforts by the Ministry of Economy.
Measures to restructure the tourism sector
The government has also taken measures to restructure the tourism sector and attract foreign investments, as part of the Sultanate’s plans to diversify the sources of the economy in the implementation of Vision 2040, which aims in part to establish and develop the tourism infrastructure.
The Sultanate’s government has also opened the way for global partners with extensive experience to develop the sector and has presented many investment opportunities for the tourism sector with the aim of developing it.
For example, the Oman Tourism Development Company “Omran Group” signed at the start of this year a development partnership agreement with Diamond Real Estate Development Company to develop the first phase of the integrated Yeti tourism project with an investment value of about $1 billion, which will be implemented in an area of up to 900,000 sqms, and will focus on establishing a sustainable mixed-use tourism project, which includes a group of main facilities such as parks, public facilities, residential units, shops, educational facilities, hospitality facilities, restaurants, cafes, an equestrian center, and others.
The first phase is expected to contribute to creating 900 direct and indirect jobs and opening wide areas for cooperation with the private sector and local companies, in addition to various entrepreneurial opportunities for small and medium enterprises.
Stimulating and enabling international tourism
Within the framework of Oman’s 2040 vision, which aims, in part, for non-oil sectors such as tourism to contribute more than 90 percent to the gross domestic product, the Sultanate seeks to implement the projects of the recovery plan for the tourism sector in 2021-2022, including stimulating and enabling international tourism, promoting the sector’s growth by encouraging internal and external tourism, and promoting cultural and geological tourism programs.
The plan also includes an investment program for various projects to target and provide suitable options for local tourism. The recovery plan also includes establishing visitor centers in a number of sites, developing sites for registration on the World Heritage List, supporting private museums, and paying attention to beach and adventure tourism. The ministry’s plan for tourism promotion also includes targeting international or regional conferences and exhibitions and focusing on the meetings sector regionally and internationally.
Offering nature reserves for investment
Among the plans that stimulate investment to encourage tourism, the Environment Agency has proposed natural reserves as investment areas for companies and specialized institutions wishing to manage ecotourism projects, as part of the agency’s plans to achieve a financial return to support the local economy in areas that aim to research, study and reflect on nature, plants, and animals.
It should be noted that the Sultanate of Oman has 25 nature reserves, hosting an average annual number of 15,000 tourists.
Oman Tourism 2022 Forum
On May 10, 2022, at the Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC), during the Arabian Travel Market (2022), Oman is preparing to launch the Oman Tourism Forum in an effort to develop a promising economic sector in accordance with its Oman 2040 vision.