Muscat: With the country's focus being on the Salalah Festival, Times of Oman contacted Issam Al Barawani, director, Operations Destination, Muriya Tourism Development, for his views and his company's plans on developing tourism in Dhofar.
What are the plans for the Khareef season?
Having two world-class hotels, Juweira Boutique Hotel and the newly opened Salalah Rotana Resort up and running is vital to a having a successful Khareef season for our operations in Salalah. With the diverse entertainment programme available to satisfy numerous tastes and interests, we are putting in our high gear to have one of Salalah's main attractions, Salalah Beach ready to wow the crowds. With occupancy rates expected to reach an average of over 80 per cent, we are excited to show what Oman in general and Salalah in particular has to offer.
What are your expectations for 2014?
By delivering on our promise in our current ITCs, we are doing our part in raising the awareness about Oman as an emerging tourist destination regionally and globally. Forecasts of a 24 per cent increase in tourist arrivals are expected in the country over the 2014-2018 period reaching 1.35 million. Increased demand will set the growth trend of the industry. With this growth, the Sultanate is expected to lead the Middle East countries in tourism and travel sector and Muriya will continue with contributions that steer this growth forward.
What's the next step for Muriya in Oman?
We will continue with our strategy to build and complete fully integrated towns. Phase one of both Salalah Beach and Jebel Sifah were completed by the end of 2013. Phase two kicked-off early 2014, which will bring more world-class hotel brands to Salalah Beach. While construction is undergoing, we are handing over real estate units, opening more retail and commercial outlets and introducing recreational facilities including golf courses.
Do you have any suggestions for the traveller who would like to experience Salalah?
While we encourage our guests and visitors to avail of the offers and promotions that we have throughout Salalah Beach, including water sports or a lagoon gondola tour, we also want them to experience the city and its heritage.
There are a variety of activities including shopping at Haffa Souk, exploring the starting point of the ancient frankincense trail in Wadi Darbat and rediscovering the Lost City of Ubar.
In addition, Jabal Samhan offers the more adventurous visitors a wonderful hike experience while enjoying the great weather and striking scenery.