MUSCAT: Oman has been ranked among the top 17 of the world’s fastest growing tourism destinations, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Travel Barometer.
Ranked 16th, ahead of Romania and behind Columbia, the Sultanate is the only Arab and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country to make the list.
While much of the Middle East has been suffering in recent years, with the rise of the Arab Spring, civil wars breaking out and the emergence of terrorist organisations in the North, Oman still continues to attract tourists.
In 2005, the Sultanate saw about 891,000 tourists’ arrival while in 2015, the number doubled to around 1.78 million visitors, accounting for a 17 per cent increase.
According to the National Centre for Statistics and Information’s (NCSI) latest monthly bulletin report, 964,956 guests had checked into 3-5 star hotels by the end of October 2015.
Earlier this month, Dr. Ahmad Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, announced a waterfront project which will begin on July 1.
The project is divided into 4 zones, with the first one expected to be completed by 2019. It includes the waterfront’s heart which consists of the fisherman’s wharf and fish market as well as destination shopping, waterside restaurants and cafes, boutiques, offices and entertainment and cultural facilities.
Six hotels will also be constructed, offering over 1,500 rooms and 65 apartments ranging from five to three stars. The waterfront is aiming to be the next tourist destination in Muscat, thus bringing more visitors to the Sultanate.