Oman’s tourism sector had a stellar year in 2022, with revenue and visitor arrival statistics exceeding its targets. According to recent data from the country’s National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI), the Gulf state’s tourism revenues hit OR1.9 bn. This reflects a 47.3 percent increase compared to 2021 figures.
Meanwhile, the number of inbound visitors increased to 2.9 mn in 2022. This is a staggering 348 percent surge from the 652,000 visitors in the previous year.
Better overall tourism performance
The data further revealed that by the end of 2022, the tourism sector contributed a direct added value of OR1.1 bn, a 33 percent increase from OR804.9 mn in 2021.
The tourism sector also played a significant role in Oman’s gross domestic product (GDP), contributing 2.4 percent. According to the Tourism Statistical Bulletin, local tourism accounted for 68 percent of tourism production, equivalent to OR1.3 bn, in 2022.
In terms of foreign travelers, fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries emerged as the primary source of visitors to Oman, with 1.6 mn visitors coming from the said region. This is followed by Asian countries with 651,000 visitors, European countries with 360,000 visitors, and other Arab territories with 240,000 visitors.
Leisure and recreation were the leading motivations for inbound tourism, making up 43.5 percent of total visits. Visits to family and friends follow at 35.7 percent; then employment and business trips at 10.5 percent. The cumulative spending by inbound visitors amounted to OR592.4 mn.
When it comes to outbound tourism, Oman saw a striking increase of 166.2 percent in 2022, with 5.2 mn outbound visitors. Omani travelers comprised 67.3 percent (about 3.5 mn) of the total outgoing visitors.
Prominent tourist destination
The tourism sector plays a vital role in Oman’s 2040 Economic Vision. It is aiming to boost the sector’s contribution to Oman’s GDP by five percent in 2030 and up to 10 percent in 2040. To achieve this, it aims to attract a total of 11.7 mn visitors by 2040.
To further attract tourists, Oman is investing in several pivotal projects. Salim bin Mohammed al Mahrouqi, minister of heritage and tourism, previously disclosed that Al Sharq, a landmark recreational tourism project within the Blue City, is slated to commence operations in 2024. There are also plans for a project in the Wilayat of Qurayat, which is designed to draw recreational tourists, with a special emphasis on marine tourism.
According to the latest index compiled by Wego, a reputable search engine for airline and hotel reservations, Oman now holds the 12th position among the best tourist destinations in the Middle East. This is a huge improvement from its 16th-place performance in the fourth quarter of the 2022 index, where Egypt secured the top spot, followed closely by Saudi Arabia, India, and the United Arab Emirates.
In 2021, the capital of Muscat was Oman’s most visited city. In the succeeding year, the city served as a World Cup 2022 satellite city.
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