Business Monitor International prepared The Oman Tourism Report. The report examines the significant long-term potential currently being offered by the local tourism industry, but flags short-term concerns surrounding the fact that Oman is currently served by significantly less direct flights than other Gulf tourist destinations, as well as the fact that the country still needs to invest to improve infrastructure and develop a wider range of tourism facilities.

The report also analyses the growth and risk management strategies being employed by some of the leading players in Oman’s tourism sector (airlines and hotel chains), as they seek to maximise the growth opportunities being offered by the local market at the present time. This quarter, BMI has revised up its forecast for tourist arrivals in 2012, believing that an increase of 15% is now possible. This comes in the wake of strong arrivals data (including transfers) for Q112 at Muscat Airport of 944,833 passengers. This represented a 22% increase year-on-year (y-o-y) and bodes well for another strong performance by Oman’s tourism sector in 2012.

Further bolstering our current upbeat stance towards the domestic industry, Tourism Minister Maitha Al Mahrouqi recently announced significant increases in the national room supply, to 20,000 rooms by 2015, while airport capacity is also set to treble at both Muscat and Salalah airports. Moreover, BMI’s country risk team is currently positive towards Oman’s near-term political outlook, with high oil prices leaving the government with room to increase social spending should any social tensions (such as those seen in early 2011) re-emerge. Although BMI remains concerned over ongoing civil conflict in neighbouring Yemen and the threat of Iran moving to close the Strait of Hormuz in the event of any US or Israeli military action aimed at the government in Tehran, we believe that any possible military activity in the Gulf region would have a minimal impact on Oman itself.

Over the last quarter, BMI has revised the following forecasts/views:
– BMI has revised up its forecast for tourist arrivals in 2012, in the light of strong Q112 arrivals data being released by the Oman Airports Management Company. We now believe tourist arrivals can increase by 15% over the current year.

– BMI is also increasingly upbeat on the outlook for Oman tourism over the remainder of our extended forecast period to 2016, believing Oman is in a strong position to attract travellers who had been intending to travel to other, less stable countries in the Gulf region.

– BMI welcomes Oman’s setting of an ambitious goal of 12mn tourist arrivals by 2020, although we would caution that this figure may not be reached by the end of the decade on current growth trends.