Half a million tourism jobs in Oman by 2040
September 18, 2019 | 8:31 PM
by Times News Service

Muscat: The Sultanate’s Tourism sector is expected to create half a million jobs in Oman by 2040, leading travel and tourism officials in the country have said.

Tourism is one of the key areas targeted for expansion by the government under the Tanfeedh programme for economic expansion.

CEO of Omran, the tourism development arm of the government, Peter Walichnowski said that tourism was part of the country’s priority towards expansion.

He said, “We have a national priority for the diversification of the economy, and one of the key pillars of diversification is tourism.

“Omran works very closely with the Ministry of Tourism, in execution of the ‘Oman Tourism Strategy’ as part of Vision 2040. This was prepared by the ministry and consists of the roadmap for what companies like us are doing to help implement this strategy.”

“The first step is the creation of 500,000 jobs by 2040, and also to increase investment in the country with about OMR 19 billion of investment. We also aim to increase tourism’s contribution to Oman’s GDP from six to 10 per cent which is closer to what the international norms are.

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“We also aim to develop the local economy and local SMEs by creating over a thousand businesses, and this is important, because in most developed economies, SMEs contribute about 80 per cent of the GDP, but in Oman, it is only about 15 to 20 per cent,” he added.

In addition to this, tourismis also expected to contribute upto OMR3 billion to Oman’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2028. According NCSI’s (National Centre for Statistics and Information) data, tourism contributed only 2.6 per cent to Oman’s GDP in 2018, and 2.7 per cent in 2017.

In the same context, CEO of Oman Airports, Aiman Al Hosni, “We had 75,000 people in this sector in 2016, and hopefully in 2040, we will have half a million staff. This number will also serve job seekers, god willing. We had OMR 1.7 billion in the tourism sector in 2017, and we will have a forecasted OMR 3 billion contribution in 2028, so there is a good growth story.”

Walichnowski and Al Hosni were speaking at a tourism and transport seminar titled ‘Oman – the heartbeat of Arabia’, which was organised by the Modern College of Business and Science to spread awareness of the various tourism development activities that the Sultanate had set up to help develop and improve the sector.

Dean of the Modern College of Business and Science (MCBS), Dr Khalfan Al Asmi, said, “Tourism has the potential to be Oman’s second major earner after oil, with a healthy contribution to our GDP. This sector also has the potential to generate thousands of jobs each year for graduates, and provide financial security for them, either as business owners, or as employees in the sector.”

“Oman is one of the safest countries in the world. It is politically stable, and it is a nation whose people are very tolerant. It has beautiful beaches, with the longest coastline in the Arabian Peninsula, with a length of 1,700km. Its unpolluted marine ecosystem attracts thousands of divers every year, and its rugged terrain makes it perfect for hiking, and its deserts make it very peaceful for campers. The Khareef in Salalah is a big success for all of our regular visitors,” Dr Khalfan Al Asmi added.

Tourism is one of the five areas of high potential selected for growth by the Oman government under the Tanfeedh plan. The other four are mining and energy, agriculture and fisheries, transport and logistics, and manufacturing.

The plan aims to strategically shift the country away from its long-standing dependence on oil and gas as sources of revenue, and increase the flow of income from other sectors in the country.

Walichnowski went on to add that while the government did have plenty of investment and interest in developing tourism in the country, there needed to be more contributions from the private sector as well.

“Worldwide, tourism is expected to contribute about 12 per cent to a country’s GDP, and it is a provider of employment. It is not hard to forecast why Oman sees tourism as one of the key sectors for growth. Fundamental to this strategy are five important criteria that need to be achieved to show that this strategy is a success.

“What it says is that today, the government has a heavy hand in this sector, so there needs to be a move in this sector from an entirely government run enterprise towards a rise in private enterprises,” Walichnowski added.

“This rings true for all successful tourism initiatives in countries all around the world. Finally, our aim is to improve the quality of life and strengthen local pride and identity, internationally for Oman,” he said.

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