Visa-free entry offers boost to Oman tourism

Oman Saturday 11/March/2023 22:00 PM
By: Times News Service
Visa-free entry offers boost to Oman tourism

Muscat: One of the biggest reasons for a surge in the arrival of tourists in Oman has been the opening up of visa-free entry for the people of 103 countries.

The decision to extend visa-free entry for 14 days for tourists from 103 countries has turned out to be a catalyst in promoting the tourism sector.

The decision was taken to support the tourism industry in Oman with visa-free facilities provided as per specific regulations and conditions.

According to the latest statistics issued by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), the Sultanate of Oman witnessed a massive 348 percent jump in tourists in 2022 compared to 2021 with 2.9 million tourists arriving in Oman in 2022.

A top official at Omran Group agreed that “the steady rise of tourists in the Sultanate of Oman has been a result of a pragmatic and integrated approach in developing the tourism sector.”

Mohammed Al Ghufaili, Chief Operating Officer at Omran, said: “The growth can be attributed to integrated steps, some of recent measures include free entry visas to more than 100 countries.”

The surge in the arrival of tourists saw the revenues of 3-5 star hotels rising by 50.8 percent at the end of January 2023 compared to the corresponding period in 2022 to stand at OMR20.79 million.

The latest data saw occupancy rate record a rise by 31.3 percent to reach 53.7 percent, compared to 40.9 percent during the
corresponding period in 2022 while the number of 3-5 star hotels’ guests stood at 173,313, an increase by 65 percent till the
end of January 2023 as compared to the same period in 2022.

Targeting the huge market of India for tourism purposes, the ROP official said: “Indian tourists are among the 30 countries who are allowed entry on arrival, provided they have an entry visa of the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Schengen countries, Japan or have a resident permit of one of the GCC countries. The resident/work permit should be one of the professions that are approved by the Oman government.”

Besides India, the other 29 countries are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Albania, Laos, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Vietnam, Bhutan, Guatemala, Belarus, Cuba, Panama, Peru, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and Egypt.”

Al Ghufaili said: “We have also seen an influx in domestic tourism with an increase of festive events across the governorates co-hosted by Omran with the governorate offices, which celebrate the diverse cultural and stunning landscapes of the Sultanate of Oman.”

Al Ghufaili added: “The travel market is bouncing back, post-Covid with people all over the world looking for new experiential travel destinations. Oman is placed high on the world rankings for such an ideal tourist destination. We are delighted to see the steady growth reaching our pre-Covid visitors.

“And during the recent ITB Berlin, one of the world’s leading travel trade show, our very own national travel operator ‘Visit Oman’ just won the prestigious “Best Tourism Partner of 2023” award presented by the industry leader in travel and tourism, Voyage Privé, at the International Tourism Exchange in Berlin”

“VisitOman.om also launched an all-new loyalty and reward program for travel trade partners worldwide allowing travel agents to earn and redeem points for a wide variety benefits, special offers and prizes, strengthening Visit Oman’s commitment to increase tourism to Oman.”

“At Omran, we continue to develop a diverse portfolios of experiences and destinations that adapt to the current traveling trends by offering exceptional hospitality and leisure experiences, offering a unique and memorable trip to visitors, who wish to take time off to rejuvenate or explore new adventures with families and friends filled with a rich authentic experience.”

Visa-free stay can be extended for a fee

The ROP official added that there was an option for tourists of the 103 countries to extend their stay for more than 14 days.

Following the specified period, travellers from the countries must apply online for an e-visa for a fee of OMR 20 for a period of one month. They can also apply for a multi-entry visa for one year, provided that their stay on each visit is not more than a month,” the officer said, noting that certain conditions need to be met.

Among the major countries whose nationals are allowed to enter Oman visa-free for 14 days are Portugal, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Bulgaria, Switzerland,  Croatia, Hungary,  Serbia, Georgia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Belgium, Romania, Slovenia, Finland, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Cyprus, Ukraine, Spain, Czech Republic, Austria, Ireland, United Kingdom, Poland, Slovakia, France, Netherlands, Venezuela, Colombia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Thailand, South Africa, Russia, China, United States of America,  Turkey, South Korea, New Zealand, Iran, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Canada, Malaysia, and Singapore.