Muscat: With just over a month left for the kick-off of the world’s greatest football spectacle – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – the football fever has started rising in the region.
The Sultanate of Oman is hoping to make Muscat one of the preferred destinations for football fans from across the world with attractive offers from airlines and hotels.
In an encouraging development football, a large group of Argentina fans have confirmed that they would make Muscat their base during the World Cup event.
The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 begins on November 20 with the opening game between hosts Qatar and Ecuador.
In an exclusive chat with Times of Oman, Juan Ignacio Migone, a tour operator from Buenos Aires, Argentina, said: “We are delighted to bring a sizeable group of football fans to Oman during the World Cup.
“A total of 60 fans will be staying in Oman for a period of 12 nights and attend Argentina’s group matches and also enjoy the warmth and hospitality of Oman.”
Migone, who has tied up with a leading in-bound domestic operator in Oman, Arabica Orient Tours, said: “I am very satisfied to have decided on Oman as the base camp for my guests during the World Cup. With Qatar offering expensive options, I explored many places in the region. Oman stood out for its natural landscape and tourism potential. My local partners, Arabica Orient Tours, have been very cooperative. I am looking forward to organizing more tours from Argentina to Oman in future.”
Migone, who is making his maiden visit to Oman, said: “In the past I have arranged tours for football fans to 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and during the World Cup in South Africa. My company also arranges special tours for tennis fans to Grand Slams. This is my first attempt to bring a large group to Oman. I am hoping that the fans will carry back good memories and we can then arrange more tours to Oman.
“I think Oman should do more to attract tourists from South America. The South Americans love to travel in large groups. Even, for the upcoming Qatar World Cup, there should have been more publicity to attract the fans.In my opinion, Oman offers a lot to explore, besides being a next door neighbour of Qatar.”
With Lionel Messi, one of the greatest footballers in history, announcing that the Qatar World Cup will be his last, there is a growing interest among the Argentina fans to watch him in action this last time.
“Messi has a special place in the hearts of every Argentine. He has brought us joy for long. Fans in Argentina are very emotional and they look for happiness in football as they battle the economic slowdown in the country,” said Migone.
He said that during the match days of Argentina in the group stage, “my guests will do daily air trips.”
“However, if Argentina advances to the knockout stage, then we move this group to Dubai as there are better travel options from there during the knockout rounds,” added Migone.
Sanjay Bhattacharya, founder of Arabica Orient Tours, was happy to be involved with this project which, he said, was unique.
He said: “Over the past many years, this is for the first time that I am having a group of Argentine tourists.
“We are proud to showcase Oman’s tourism potential and hope that it will open new business opportunities with tourists from South America. We are going to manage all the logistics during their stay.”
During the 12-day stay, the guests will be taken for dolphin-watching cruise, trip to Nizwa, dune bashing in Rimal al Sharqiya [Wahiba Sands] and also taken around other well-known attractions.
Oman hopes to cater to many more fans groups in the coming days as the countdown to the Qatar World Cup begins.
Former World Cup winners Germany have already confirmed holding a training camp in Oman next month.
Germany will also play a warm-up match against Oman at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on November 18.