Muscat: Oman has relaxed its visa rules to attract more tourists from Russia, India and China.
Omani authorities have announced that some Indian, Chinese and Russian nationals will be allowed to obtain a non-sponsored tourist visa for Oman.
A statement issued by Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC) read, “All passengers from India, China and Russia, who reside in or hold an entry visa to one of the following countries (United States of America, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Schengen states) are allowed to obtain non-sponsored tourist visa to enter Oman as per the applied terms and conditions of the authorities.”
An additional circular from OAMC added that the spouse and children of the visa holder would also be allowed to enter Oman while accompanying them.
The visa will cost OMR20 and be valid for one month. Applicants must also have a return ticket and confirmed hotel reservation to be granted the visa.
Describing this as an extremely pro-active step by the government, Wasim Zaidi, general manager—Oman, Jet Airways, said this will help inbound travel to grow during these challenging times. “This will be successful if it is efficiently marketed in the Gulf, India, Russia and China and various other locations in the world,” he said.
Firas Rashid, director of Sales and Marketing, Anantara Jabal Akhdar, said: “I think this is a move many people in the hospitality sector are waiting for. The Ministry of Tourism has made this one of the areas for Oman to expand its economy and if you look at Russia, India and China, these are three of the countries with the largest growing portion of travellers.”
“It’s not just package tours that these people are looking for now, but luxury travel as well, because they have the ability to spend, so this is a great way to showcase Oman’s culture and heritage to people who may not have heard much about this country. But what needs to be done now is put Oman in the brochures in these areas because they have not heard of Oman. Oman Air could also have better connectivity with these countries so that more people come here. I am actually travelling to Russia on business soon so this will be a very good thing to mention,” Rashid said.
Welcoming the decision, Vijay Handa, cluster general manager, Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve, said: “This is going to add to the ease of travel of many who want to visit this beautiful country. Undoubtedly, this is a very positive indicator for the tourism industry, which is seeing regular and steady growth. Especially these countries have a lot of potential travellers. It’s the beginning of the efforts made by the Ministry of Tourism and Omran’s initiatives that are showing results.”
Jasim Al Balushi, deputy head of Education and Professional Development, Caledonian College, said: “If more tourism comes to Oman soon, the industry will develop and more students will think of a career in this field. Right now, tourism is very underdeveloped in Oman and there need to be more facilities for tourists who come here. If you go to other countries, you see a lot of stalls displaying local goods and produce outside popular areas; you have car services for people, where they show and take tourists around the country, so we can have these here as well. Then you can have better entertainment options for people as well. When you go to the Seeb beach for example, what do you have? Hardly any stalls and facilities so this could change as well.”
A member of a top tourism consulting agency said: “The government has been considering loosening regulations for people from countries, such as India and China, due to the tourist potential in these countries. There is a large Indian community in Oman and leveraging that Oman can bring in tens of thousands of Indian tourists, who are not looking to go far away to Americas and Europe, but would rather stay close to home by coming to Oman. This is a good start and the Omani government will have other plans to increase tourism from these growing Asian countries in the pipeline. This is one of their policies to achieve Vision 2040.”