Home or away, tourism is top priority for Oman
July 15, 2019 | 9:36 PM
by Times News Service

Muscat: A massive tourism push both at home and abroad is ensuring Oman’s future as a holiday destination.

Staycation deals, faster check-in services and new air travel routes opening up have all been announced to boost tourism both in and out of the Sultanate.

While passengers who have no baggage and are travelling on Oman Air through Muscat International Airport will soon be able to take advantage of fast-track iPad check-in services, those who wish to travel abroad can now enjoy direct flights to Turkey, through SalamAir.

In addition, those who wish to explore the rugged beauty and unique landscape of Oman can also benefit from discounts at up to 13 hotels in the country,

after Omran, the Sultanate’s national tourism development arm, decided to launch its ‘Within Oman’ campaign to promote the domestic holiday industry.

Tourism has been earmarked as one of the major areas for further expansion under the country’s Tanfeedh programme for economic diversification, as Oman aims to move away from traditional oil-and-gas based sources of income, and towards a sustainable non-oil future. Tourism aside, the other high-potential areas for growth are manufacturing, transport and logistics, energy and mining, and agriculture and fisheries.

Oman Air’s move to introduce iPad check-in services to economy class passengers who are travelling with no baggage is intended to enhance the already seamless experience of Muscat International Airport since the launch of the new passenger terminal.

Talking exclusively to Times of Oman, Saleem Amanulla, Senior Vice President (SVP) of Ground Operations at Oman Air said that they would be launching this service very soon.

“We are going to introduce iPad check-in facility for economy class passengers in early September,” Amanulla said.

“People with no baggage standing in the queue at Muscat International Airport will be picked out by airport staff who will then do an online check-in on their iPads, so queues will be shorter, and people won’t have as long to wait.”

He also encouraged passengers to check in online before they arrived at the airport to avoid queuing.

“We are obviously encouraging people to go for an on-line check-in as we already have designated counters D1 and D2 at Muscat International Airport for online check-in passengers where all they need to do is a bag drop-off,” he added.

Speaking about how travelling has changed for passengers since the inauguration of the airport, Amanulla said: “Economy class passengers can hire a porter service by contacting TAV or Prime Class, who are offering this service. We are also offering a valet service for all passengers and we are working with the company to see if we can provide this to our passengers at a very low cost as a package deal.”

During the summer months, with many locals and expats choosing to travel overseas on holidays, which coincide with the school vacation, SalamAir has introduced direct, affordable flights to Trabzon. Flying time between the two cities is three hours and 40 minutes, and the mild weather, natural beauty and seaside holiday spots are what appeal to those who travel to the Turkish city. Other direct flights SalamAir have setup include Kuwait and Abu Dhabi to Salalah.

“It is a historic moment for us, and another of SalamAir’s firsts, now that we have a flight directly from Muscat to Trabzon and back,” said SalamAir CEO Captain Mohammed Ahmed. “Previously, people who wanted to go to this fantastic, beautiful city would have had to go through transit, but now we are providing a three-hour direct flight at a very affordable cost.”

“We carried out a survey last year, and a majority opted for Turkey as being their favourite destination, so this year, we said we needed to answer the demand of our passengers,” he added. “We started two flights – one to Trabzon and one to Istanbul. We opened with two flights a week, but we soon saw that the demand for Trabzon was remarkably high. It has seen the biggest growth and the greatest demand for bookings of any single destination. On the day we launched it, it was full, so we have now increased to first three and then four flights a week.”

While many choose to travel overseas during the Summer, Omanis who wish to explore all the Sultanate has to offer at this time of the year can take advantage of the discounts and offers made available to them under Omran’s ‘Within Oman’ campaign. The programme aims to provide a boost to summer tourism and promote domestic holidays.

“The campaign invites Omani nationals to spend the summer months in the Sultanate and stay at OMRAN’s 13 resorts across the country,” said a spokesperson for the organisation. “An opportunity to explore, stay with family and friends while enjoying 50 percent off standard rates for bookings until 30th of September 2019, including substantial discounts on additional services.”

“Apart from promoting domestic tourism and encouraging locals to experience Omran hotels, the campaign will also provide a number of recreational activities, and these exclusive packages will include free accommodation for two children below 12 years of ages, breakfast and dinner options in some hotels as well as additional discounts in wellness and spa facilities to relax and unwind,” he added.

The bookings can be done directly, online or via Omran’s website, choosing from among participating hotels: InterContinental Hotel Muscat, Millennium Resort Mussanah, Alila Jabal Akhdar, Crowne Plaza Hotel Duqm, Crowne Plaza Resort Salalah, Crowne Plaza Muscat OCEC, W Muscat, Atana Khasab, Atana Musandam, Masira Island Resort, City Hotel Duqm, Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve and Dibba Beach Resort.

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