Muscat: Residential apartments should not be leased to tourists according to a new official ruling that could affect thousands who normally cash in during khareef season.
The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) has moved to prevent owners of furnished residential properties leasing them on a daily or weekly basis without obtaining the required approval.
"Managing and operating tourism accommodation establishments requires licencing from the ministry and other government departments," the statement said.
"Accordingly, the ministry hereby urges all owners of leasable residential properties not to lease their properties to avoid being subject to legal accountability."
Experts said that the move was aimed at standardising its property market and regulating the tourism market.
The problem becomes more acute during the khareef season when Salalah experiences rains that attract tourists from the region and all across the world.
During this season, a large number of citizens move out of their houses and set up tents on the outskirts of the city to let out their homes to guests. "They charge anything between OMR50 and OMR60 per day for their furnished apartments, depending on the location," said Manpreet Singh, Chairman of the Indian Social Club, Salalah.
"This is definitely affecting our business and we are losing out on a huge amount of money," admitted Hamed Al Rashdi, manager of Juweira Boutique Hotel, Salalah.
Then there are people who go on a long holiday and let out their furnished apartments for tourism purposes in Salalah. Once the khareef season is over, they again settle down in their houses.
This year, the khareef festival will begin from the second day of Eid Al Fitr and will run till September 6, under the theme "Love for Oman Brings Us Together."
According to statistics, the number of visitors during the khareef season in 2013 increased by 23.5 per cent to 433,639, compared to 351,195 visitors in 2012.
Omanis accounted for 298,749 (68.9 per cent) of the total number of visitors, compared to 211,042 in 2012.
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