Muscat: Oil prices are forcing many Omani travellers to stay at home this year, according to travel agents.
The Eid Al Fitr holidays are usually the time when families pack their bags and head off on holiday.
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“Compared with last year, there is a dip of 20 to 30 per cent in outbound destination bookings,” Raji Demonte, general manager at Universal Travel and Tourism in Oman, said.
“Bookings are too low, and those who book prefer cheaper destinations, mainly in South East Asia as budget airlines are on the scene,” Demonte said, adding that Malaysia has become the favourite destination of people from Oman, especially for nationals looking to spend their Eid Al Fitr holidays.
According to travel agents, the oil price dip has led to this situation. “People don’t have money for leisure like they had in previous years. It is not only in outbound travel bookings, we have witnessed a dip in corporate bookings and also in cash sales. Cash sales have come down at many of our outlets,” Demonte added.
Joshy P, a senior official from Fayeda Travel and Tourism, said people make enquiries about tour packages but confirmations are too low.
“In the previous years, if there are 10 enquiries, at least seven will get confirmed, but now, not even three are getting confirmed,” Joshy added.
Deepal Pallegangoda, country manager of Mihin Lanka in Oman, echoed the same opinion.
“This year, bookings for Eid holidays are too low. It does not reach up to our expectations. The oil price dip has affected outbound travel prospects,” Pallegangoda added.
Meanwhile, another travel agent in Muscat said they have received considerably better bookings, compared with last summer.
“The maximum travel happening is immediately after Eid. The most sought after destinations are Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Georgia and other CIS countries,” Santhosh Kanakandath, managing director at Assaraya Travel and Tourism, said.
“With regards to inbound travel, we have taken a beating last season from European markets due to incidents in Yemen, Paris and Brussels. However, the general feeling amongst our European partners for the coming season is quite positive as they feel that things are much more controlled and safer (in Oman),” Kanakandath added.