Muscat: Oman needs more affordable hotels to increase the number of tourists visiting the country, said experts.
Tourism is one of the key areas that Tanfeedh, Oman’s National Diversification Programme, seeks to harness to reduce the Sultanate’s dependence on oil and gas for its revenues, but specialists said hotels need to offer more than just luxury accommodation.
“Although the focus on luxury tourism has been a rewarding strategy for Oman, so far, this segment is highly competitive globally, with several luxury destinations available. To achieve sustained growth in tourism, Oman must diversify its product offering and, accordingly, seek a wider consumer base,” said Vikram Loomba, PwC Middle East Director for Hospitality and Leisure Advisory Services.
Paul Loomis, regional head of The Business Year, said lower cost options are crucial to encouraging more people to visit the country.
“Affordable prices by the standard of the Gulf States would allow people from all over the world to visit Oman. As it stands, there are some very good luxury operations and options in Oman, but it is high-quality affordable hotels and activities that will bring in the global middle class,” he said.
The Times of Oman recently reported a 40 per cent drop in luxury hotel rates in Oman, as the global economic slowdown had reduced occupancy levels in Omani hotels.
Growing middle class
According to Kanaga Sundar, Head of Research at Gulf Baader Capital Markets, the Sultanate’s potential will be best exploited if Omani hotels are attractive to the growing middle class around
“The only way to attract middle income visitors is by providing affordable luxuries. The potential Oman has is so huge that it will not be ignored by travellers around the world, if they don’t have to dig too deep into their pockets,” he said.
Last year, the Ministry of Tourism announced ‘Vision 2040’, which aims to double the number of international visitors to five million per year, predominantly by developing clusters showcasing the country’s exotic landscape, heritage and culture. The $35 billion investment plan also envisages increasing the GDP contribution from tourism to reach 6 per cent, from 2.5 per cent today.
Loomba said that ‘Vision 2040’ is an achievable target, considering it follows a normal growth trajectory, but Oman needs to focus on a few parameters to achieve sustained growth in the
Meanwhile, Loomis explained that Oman lacked international marketing, while promotion and developing activities should be high on its agenda.
“Nothing hampers Oman’s tourism potential as does a lack of international awareness. I think that because Oman is such a good destination in other ways, it can attract conferences and corporate events from the region, and beyond. Again, it seems to be more a question of marketing and promotion, than anything else,”