Muscat: Oman can build on its ‘safe’ image and high potential to attract more tourists but it needs to invest more in developing its infrastructure and marketing, says a senior official from a leading international travel agency chain.
Travelling is not as safe as it used to be some years ago but Oman is a safe country and can ‘play this card’, Klaus Henschel, managing director, Lufthansa City Centre International GmbH (LCCI), told the Times of Oman in an exclusive interview.
He was visiting Muscat to open a new LCC office in Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos along with Khimji’s House of Travel, their franchisee partner in the Sultanate.
Their office was previously located in Ruwi.
LCC is the largest independent travel agency franchise system focusing on individual tailor-made customer service for both leisure and corporate customers. It currently has over 650 offices in 80 countries around the world, most of which are located in Germany.
LCC is not part of the Lufthansa German Airlines and does not depend on it, Henschel clarified.
The official noted that the new office in Muscat will provide a good platform for the clients to have face-to-face conversations with service providers and get the necessary information.
According to Henschel, global tourism is often affected by political, financial and natural crises happening all over the world but LCC looks into developing new products for ‘non-dangerous’ countries.
He believes that Oman can promote itself as a safe country the way Iceland, for example, is known for its safe environment which helps it receive a large number of tourists.
Oman has great tourism potential, especially for leisure travel, as the country has many attractions including a rich culture, sea, beaches and mountains, besides its good image, he said.
However, it has to invest money in developing its infrastructure and marketing and should focus on budget tourism in order to attract those who travel with lower budgets, Henschel added.
Oman should promote itself as an attractive destination not only for stopovers, but also for longer travel periods, the official said.
Asked about LCC’s activities in Oman, Henschel said it has been a ‘successful story,’ thanks to the efforts of their reliable partner, Khimji’s House of Travel.
According to him, the LCC’s management information system (MIS), which collects data at one central place from all over the world helps fulfil various needs of the network’s clients, including those in Oman.
A standalone company cannot afford to invest in the hardware and software aspects of such a system, so this is an advantage that Khimji’s House of Travel has,
In addition, the official said LCC GIN (global incoming network) provides a platform to bring business to Oman from all other centres.
LCC is seeking to provide special tours and products which cannot be bought anywhere else, Henschel noted.
Opening up opportunities
According to Khimji’s House of Travel, which is one of the leading travel agencies in Oman, the partnership with LCC has brought in the latest cutting-edge travel technology to Oman as well as substantial growth in incoming business through a network of worldwide agencies, especially from source markets like Germany, Italy and the UK.
It has also facilitated the opening of new markets to the Sultanate such as Eastern Europe, the United States, India and Australia.
Additionally, the partnership has brought in global deals with key airlines, hotels, and travel technology providers, leading to additional benefits to corporate and leisure travellers.