With the aim of stimulating the tourism industry in Oman and exploring opportunities for collaboration with international travel and tourism firms, the Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN Group) recently participated in the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The event, the theme for which is ‘Travel for a Better Future’, was held at the magnificent King Abdul Aziz International Conference Centre from 28 November to 1 December 2022. OMRAN Group’s participation in the summit was part of a larger delegation from the Sultanate of Oman that included representatives from the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism and the Oman Investment Authority.
This summit is the twenty-second edition organised by the World Travel and Tourism Council, in which tourism sector leaders from around the world participate. This year, many people from all over the world who were interested were able to see and attend the sessions through augmented reality on Metaverse.
Commenting on the Group’s participation in the Summit, Hashil bin Obaid Al Mahrouqi said, “Our participation at WTTC comes as part of our efforts to maximise Oman’s potential as an internationally recognised tourism and events destination. Our participation in this conference has provided us with an invaluable opportunity to network and engage with regional and international pioneers in the travel and tourism industry. It has also allowed us to demonstrate the efficacy of our forward-thinking investment strategies and how our broad mix of value-added services and tourism products contribute to the diversification of Oman’s tourism industry and the steady growth of the sector. It also provided us the opportunity to showcase some of the valuable investment opportunities in upcoming OMRAN Group projects.”
He Added: “There are two primary trends we can expect to take hold in the next five years. The first is an emphasis on the digitalisation of the sector. In fact, technology and digitalisation are already at the heart of many ambitious projects in Oman and across the region. The second, and arguably more important, is a keen focus on sustainable tourism. With growing concern for climate change, as well as a need to preserve the culture, natural beauty and heritage of a destination, has drawn focus towards the need to implement sustainability and sustainable practices in every tourism project and destination. At the OMRAN Group, we embrace both and are working towards building a sustainable and tech-forward tourism sector in line with the objectives of Oman Vision 2040 and the National Tourism Strategy.”
One of the summit’s highlights was the panel discussion, which touched on the contributions of Travel and Tourism to the regional economy, the importance of sustainability and maintaining the authenticity of a destination, the future outlook for the sector, and how the region is redefining tourism. In addition to Hashil bin Obaid Al Mahrouqi, the panel also included HE Fatima Al Sairafi, Minister of Tourism, Bahrain, HRH Prince Turki bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz, Chairman, Aseer Development Authority, Anne Biging, Managing Director & Founder, Healing Hotels of the World, and Fawaz Farooqui, Managing Director, Cruise Saudi and John Defterios, Sr Advisor APCO Worldwide & Professor of Business, NYU Abu Dhabi, moderated the discussion.
On the sidelines of the summit, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Sultanate of Oman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as part of their participation in this prestigious international forum. This agreement aims to develop the tourism sector of both countries through the exchange of experience, active participation in various tourism-related events, and mutual cooperation in several areas and initiatives related to the tourism sector.
As part of the MoU, the OMRAN Group and the Godoba platform, and the Saudi Arabia-based Al Matar Group for Travel and Tourism, signed a strategic partnership agreement as one of the first initiatives under the new MoU, further strengthening the role of the private sector in supporting the tourism development efforts of the two brotherly nations. The agreement aims to drive digital transformation in the tourism sector through the partnership between the Al Matar App, known to be one of the fastest-growing apps in the region over the last three years, and the Godoba platform, which received the Best Arab OTA Award in 2019. The agreement is expected to pave the way for both parties to expand regionally and internationally. The signing of the agreement was overseen by His Excellency Salem bin Mohammed Al Mahrouqi, the Minister of Heritage and Culture for the Sultanate of Oman, and His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism for Saudi Arabia.
For over 30 years, WTTC has conducted research on the economic impact of Travel & Tourism in 185 countries and issues such as overcrowding, taxation, policy-making, and many others to raise awareness of the importance of the Travel & Tourism sector as one of the world’s largest economic sectors. The WTTC’s annual Global Summit is the most influential Travel & Tourism event on the calendar. This year, industry leaders gathered with key government representatives to continue aligning efforts to support the sector’s recovery and move beyond to a safer, more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable future.
As a member of the WTTC, the OMRAN Group continuously seeks opportunities to establish strategic partnerships with tourism industry leaders to enhance the potential of Oman’s tourism sector. As a result, the Group reinforces its position as a leading player in developing and strengthening Oman’s tourism industry in line with the objectives of the National Tourism Strategy.