Muscat: A comprehensive new map and guide of Salalah will help boost tourism in the aftermath of Cyclone Mekunu.
Created by map-making expert Anne Malin and authorised by the Ministry of Tourism, the ‘Salalah Map & Guide’ is expected to help tourists plan longer stays and excursions in Oman’s southernmost governorate.
Speaking exclusively to the Times of Oman, Malin said, “I first visited Salalah in the early 80s and stayed at the Holiday Inn (now Crowne Plaza), which was the only international hotel in Salalah at that time. I arrived during the Khareef, a time when the monsoon produces dark clouds and light rains that brush over the mountains of Dhofar.”
“It was a sleepy city back then, and it was only known to GCC nationals and their families who visited each year, enjoying the cooler climate Salalah has to offer and escaping the extreme Gulf heat.”
A lifelong lover of Oman, Malin has lived in the country for 40 years. The British expat produced her first tourist map of Oman in 1989, and has since created more than 60, making the Sultanate much more accessible to tourists from around the world.
“Now, almost 40 years later, Salalah can no longer be referred to as a sleepy city. Luxurious resorts line Salalah’s coastline, attracting visitors from around the world. It is today one of the most popular new destinations.
“As Mekunu struck the Dhofar Governorate in late May, the heavens opened and devastating quantities of rain caused some serious flooding and infrastructural damage across the governorate. Yet, in typical Omani fashion, relief and repair operations are swiftly being put into place, thanks to the Sultan’s Armed Forces, civil defence and thousands of young citizens from across Oman who volunteered in the relief efforts.”
“Ironically, despite the damage caused, thanks to Cyclone Mekunu many more people from across the globe will have heard about Salalah and may now be curious to find out more,” said Malin.
In a statement, Marhoon Saeed Al Amri, Director General of Tourism in Dhofar, said, “This will bring about great promotion for the country, as many tourists will come to Salalah. The heavy rainfall has led to overflowing springs and waterfalls in Dhofar. These will boost tourism, as many tourists will come to see the water bodies.
“The Khareef season will not be affected by the cyclone and will run from June 21 to September 21,” he said. “The number of tourists will increase, as many are eager to visit Dhofar after the cyclone and enjoy its scenery. The whole world wants to now visit Salalah to see the effect of the cyclone there.”
“Many tourists who previously visited Dhofar didn’t see springs and waterfalls in the previous years. They will definitely come this year,” Al Amri explained.
The Ministry of Tourism has taken several steps this year to make the tourist season a far better one for visitors to Dhofar.
Al Ameri said that the Ministry of Tourism had formed a team before the cyclone took place to look into concerns tourists had previously raised, and had also sent circulars to hotels and resorts to be more careful with regard to tourism safety.