Demand for hyperlocal tourism on the rise in Oman: Ithraa official

Oman Sunday 18/September/2016 22:44 PM
By: Times News Service
Demand for hyperlocal tourism on the rise in Oman: Ithraa official

Muscat: Cheap package holidays, bucket and spade culture and jetting off for two weeks of sun, sand and souvenirs is on the decline, says Taleb Al Makhmari, Acting Director General, Marketing & Media at the Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (Ithraa).
Ithraa is Oman’s inward investment and export promotion agency, and organiser of the annual Inside Stories initiative.
Today, there is a new type of tourism - one that could be described as deep travel - it is about getting under the skin of a place. Tourists seeking out authenticity, real experiences rather than fake culture packages made for
the masses.
“It is about the appreciation of local distinctiveness, the idiosyncrasies and the detail, the things that make a place unique and special,” said Al Makhmari.
“Tourism is going hyperlocal,” explained Ithraa’s Acting Director General of Marketing & Media and the topic for Monday night’s Inside Stories session scheduled for 7:30pm at Bank Muscat’s Head Office in Airport Heights.
Supported by BP Oman, Bank Muscat, Times of Oman, Al Wisal and Merge 104.8FM Inside Stories is a series of four informal evening talks that brings together Oman’s business community and public sector. Discussions focus on the opportunities and trends that are redefining what it means to be in, and start, a business today.
“Increasingly, today’s tourists are looking for more than just the tick-box attractions, passport stamps and Instagram photos. They’re after genuine experiences that are memorable,” explained Al Makhmari.
The demand for hyperlocal tourism activities is on the rise. Whether it is climbing mountains, crossing deserts, sailing, relaxing on a beach or shopping, tourists want an authentic experience.
In fact, there is a large number of travellers who are looking for offbeat locations to get the local, unique real-life experience, a market worth around $140 billion globally.
Research shows that when tourists are asked to describe their ideal holiday they use words like “authentic,” “discovery,” as well as “relaxing”.
“More and more often, they’re looking to experience distinctive, local culture, too,” pointed out Ithraa’s Acting Director General of Marketing & Media.
Foreign tourists
Al Makhmari went on to say: “And it’s not just about attracting foreign tourists to Oman, our next happy customer could be closer to home. Google data shows that, since 2010, “staycation” has enjoyed a 58 per cent rise in search frequency - with a 10 per cent year-on-year increase in 2015 alone - and is forecasted to climb”.
Monday evening’s Inside Stories panel will be moderated by Dr. Wail Al Harrasi, Corporate Technology Advisor, Petroleum Development Oman and includes: Issa Sultan Al Ismaili, Executive Director, Oman World Tourism LLC; Khalid Al Yahmadi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Muscat National Development & Investment Company ASAAS; Mazen Khoury, Investment Director, Tourism & Culture, Oman Investment Fund; and Graham Leslie, Chief Executive Officer, Al Siraj Hospitality.
Oman’s small businesses, particularly those working in the creative industries space, can certainly play a role in helping tourists realize their expectations, as well as supporting the local hotels they stay in and the airlines they travel on.
“These are just some of the tourism issues we will be discussing on Monday evening,” explained Al Makhmari.