Muscat: Thousands of tourists are expected to flock to the country’s southern region in Dhofar as the Khareef (monsoon) season will begin on June 21, the authorities announced on Tuesday.
The Khareef season is expected to continue until September 21.
Sheikh Salim bin Ofait Al Shanfri, head of the Dhofar Municipality and head of the organising committee of the Salalah Tourism Festival, said all preparations for the Salalah Tourism Festival from June 30 to August 31 are complete. “This year’s version is entitled, ‘Oman Prosperity and Development’ and is designed to reflect the atmosphere of brotherhood, love and prosperity being enjoyed by the Sultanate,” he said.
He also pointed out that the new activities in the festival include the introduction of the traditional arts and handicrafts festival, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and participation from 35 countries.
Al Shanfri said the festival includes a range of sporting events, cultural, artistic and religious competitions, as well as a competition for the memorisation of the Holy Quran. He pointed out that a group of lecturers from inside and outside the Sultanate has also been invited, in addition to various exhibitions, local and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) performances, as well as some activities in the wilayats of Taqah, Mirbat and in the Municipality Friends camp in Iteen. Even hoteliers are expecting a busy season this year.
“We will be as busy as last year,” an official at a leading hotel in Salalah, said.
Even the rise of cholera cases in Yemen is not worrying people. “We have not got any warning from Municipality and Health authorities regarding it so we are not worried and are busy preparing for Eid and the Salalah Tourism Festival,” he said.
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) said: “It is noteworthy that even though areas in the Sultanate experience high temperatures during summer, Dhofar, which is located in the south of the Sultanate, differentiates itself with its amazing moderate temperatures. The region is a treat to all of one’s senses and is characterised by mountainous slopes, plains and valleys; with its beaches extending along the coast of the Arabian Sea.”
During this time (June to September), the mountains and plains in the region become lush green, making Dhofar an important tourism destination.
MoT is implementing several service projects, upgrading facilities and focusing on the hotel sector as part of its preparations for the Khareef season.
The MoT official added that the ministry, represented by the Directorate General of Tourism in Dhofar, provides services to visitors during the Khareef season by setting up temporary tourist information centres, and permanent centres at ports, at the Salalah Airport, Salalah Gardens Mall and Salalah Tourism Centre.
A spokesperson for the Salalah Tourism Festival said: “At the festival event centre, we expect to see 30,000 to 55,000 visitors daily.”
Like previous years, the official hoped that the numbers will go up this year too. “Despite what is happening in the region, we hope that the number will go up as Salalah is still the most preferred destination in the Arab world in summer,” the official said.
Last year, the Khareef season attracted 652,000 visitors until September 21, as per the statistics from a survey conducted by the National Centre for Statistics and Information.