The annual Arabian Travel Market roadshow arrives in Muscat today at the City Seasons Hotel, bringing together key industry players to discuss marketing opportunities to showcase Oman’s tourism ambitions.
Oman is raising awareness of its tourism-related developments at this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM), where exhibitors will include the Oman Ministry of Tourism, Oman Airways and for the first time, Muriya Tourism Development.
Developing new hotels and resorts and bringing them to market is one of Oman’s top priorities. A number of large-scale transport infrastructure developments will be coming to fruition over the next few years at a cost in excess of US$ 50 billion.
This was demonstrated by figures from global research & analytics company Aranca, which revealed that as of July 2013, Oman had the largest growth in its active hotel development pipeline of all the MENA countries, up 59.9% on July 2012, with 4,577 rooms.
“Oman is a country with a fine-tuned vision for its tourism industry and is forging ahead with plans to build a premium destination targeted at discerning travellers,” said Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
“With this in mind, the Sultanate is investing in a wide-range of top-quality hotels and resorts, supported by world-class infrastructure developments spanning aviation, road, rail and maritime.”
The hospitality sector has already rolled out a number of properties in the recent past, across Oman including the Best Western Premier Hotel in Muscat, the Holiday Inn Muscat, Salalah Rotana Resort in the Dhofar province, the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Duqm and niche resorts in Omran, at Khasab (Musandam) and Jebel Al Akhdar.
Her Excellency Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary Ministry of Tourism, Sultanate of Oman, says she expects hotels and restaurants to contribute 5% of Oman’s GDP by 2020, with the tourism sector’s total contribution reaching a “much higher figure”.
A World Economic Forum (WEF) report claims Oman’s travel and tourism industry was worth an estimated US$2.11 billion in 2012 and anticipates average growth of 5.2% between 2013 and 2022. The sector’s contribution to Oman’s GDP stood at 6.6% in 2012, it claims.
“Predicted growth of the tourism sector could be modest given the raft of projects pipelined and the rapid development of Oman’s aviation sector, with national carrier Oman Air expanding its route network plus regional operators such as Air Arabia, flydubai and Qatar Airways adding more flights to Muscat and Salalah,” added Walsh.
Targeting international visitors is high on the agenda for Oman Air, which plans to go double-daily on its Muscat-London route and branch out into other medium- and long-haul markets when new A330 and B787 aircraft are delivered, taking its total fleet size to 50 by 2017.
To cater for a surge in travellers visiting the Sultanate, a new US$1.8 billion passenger terminal is under construction at Muscat International Airport, boosting its capacity from six to 12 million passengers annually. Six international airports in total are in the planning stage or under construction Oman-wide, with regional locations including Salalah, Duqm, Ras Al Hadd, Adam and Sohar.
“A nationally-significant initiative is the transformation of Port Sultan Qaboos into a tourism and cruise ship precinct, a project designed to re-establish Muscat as the maritime gateway to the Gulf of Arabia,” said Walsh.
Oman is one of the six Middle East destinations being visited by the ATM team during its week-long roadshow which takes in Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Riyadh and Dubai.
Current and potential exhibitors visited during the roadshow will learn about new event features including the introduction of an annual theme, with 2014 shining the spotlight on the luxury travel sector. The seminar programme in particular will focus on this important theme, which is particularly relevant to Dubai and the rest of the Gulf region.