Muscat: The Ministry of Heritage and Tourism has embarked on an ambitious plan of tourism development in the governorates of Muscat, Al Dakhiliyah, South Al Sharqiyah, Dhofar and Musandam, and is also devising plans for the rest of the governorates.
As part of the plan, it is targeted to attract investments of about OMR3 billion between 2021 and 2023. Out of this, planned investments of OMR1.7 have already been achieved. The plan includes establishing a system of governance and updating the legal framework by reviewing and updating the tourism law and its executive regulations, reviewing and updating the cultural heritage law, issuing an executive regulation for the law, reviewing and updating frameworks related to integrated tourism complexes and contracts and development agreement for granting incentives and facilities for investment projects.
The Minister of Heritage and Tourism, Salim Mohammed Al Mahrouqi, said the plan proceeds from several initiatives and economic diversification projects and programmes come under the Omani strategy for tourism, whose implementation extends until 2040. He added that a number of initiatives have been modified or added in line with both the current developments and the Oman Vision 2040.
The Minster added that the aim is to achieve quick gains in the sector through priority projects that the tourism market currently needs, and the continuation of the tourism sector recovery plan from the COVID-19 and support projects whose implementation has been affected by the pandemic.
The Minister of Heritage and Tourism explained that the ministry is studying the establishment of the Tourism Development Fund, which can play an important role in financing the tourism projects even as work continues to promote the growth of the sector in coordination with a number of national programmes.
He said the plan focuses on achieving a qualitative leap in planning, development and investment by improving this system, developing tourism land management and a geographical database and creating an electronic planning system that includes a platform for tourism land management, a platform for investors and a monitoring and follow-up platform.
The minister of Heritage and Tourism said the number of integrated tourism complex projects is currently 21, of which 11 are on government lands owned by the Ministry, and there are 5 development agreements already signed for these complexes and 8 usufruct contracts. Ten projects are on private lands, two of which are in the process of implementation, and for four of them development agreements have been signed.
His Excellency added that the comprehensive development plan for the sector includes following up on the ongoing and licensed projects and developing incentives for projects of integrated tourism complexes, in addition to providing facilities for investment projects.
He explained that the comprehensive development plan for heritage and tourism sector includes 194 major and sub-projects and 7 main axes, namely governance, management, capacity building, planning, development and investment, quality, sustainability and competitiveness, local added value, tourism products and experiences, the labour market, support for local products and tourism promotion.
The seventh axis focuses on the main challenges and proposed solutions through coordination and integration between the ministry and the concerned authorities. These challenges include those related to investment procedures and related to investment projects and financing challenges, and challenges related to integrated tourism.