Oman rises: Record tourist numbers for Salalah

Oman Saturday 18/August/2018 21:18 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman rises: Record tourist numbers for Salalah

Muscat: The occupancy rate in apartments and villas during the 2018 Khareef season exceeded 98 per cent, according to experts. With tourists arrival to Salalah increasing by nearly 28 per cent this Khareef season, the Dhofar Chamber of Commerce is working on an application to make it easier to find accommodation in the governorate.
The aim of this application is to provide visitors to the Dhofar governorate with a variety of options, so that they are able to select the ones best suited to them, on the basis of availability, convenience and budget. The real estate development committee at the Dhofar chamber is working on preparing a good real estate guide, which will provide all the data on the options available in the governorate, as well as the prices for purchase or rent.
This year’s Khareef season has seen a great turnout of tourists, which touched 658,406 visitors, with an increase of 27.7 per cent compared with last year.
“The climatic conditions that the governorate experienced before the season began, created a comparative advantage in the amount of rainfall, as well as the greenery of the mountains and plains,” said Ahmed Al Rawas, Head of the real estate development committee at the Dhofar Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The influx of tourists to Dhofar this year began early July and is expected to continue until the end of August.
Influx of visitors
“Usually, the peak time of the Khareef season is between July 25 and August 10, but this year, the influx of visitors began early and is expected to continue until the end of August, and many people have already started booking early to spend their Eid holidays in the Governorate,” Ahmed Al Hassan, a businessman and real estate and investments expert, said.
He added, “In the past three years, the Khareef season witnessed a fall in the number of tourists, especially in 2017, and we were greatly affected by this dip. This year, the season saw a large increase in the number of tourists. As a result, the occupancy rate in real estate during the 2018 Khareef season exceeded 98 per cent during the peak time, while in the past years, this figure did not even exceed 60 per cent.”
In the Dhofar governorate, there are several options for accommodation, such as serviced apartments and hotels, in addition to villas and homes rented out by citizens to tourists during this period.
“In light of the urban expansion and the increasing number of new cities, we found a number of visitors who preferred to rent apartments and villas during the Khareef season,” said Al Rawas, adding, “There is a difference between hotel apartments and other private apartments.” “Hotel apartments have a tourist licence and are under the supervision of inspectors of the ministry and pay tourist tax and are rented daily, while the other apartments are subject to municipal procedures,” he added.
The rents of the privately owned apartments amount to OMR20 per night and the houses start at OMR35 at the beginning of the season and then increase according to supply and demand.
“A group of houses that we manage have mostly been given out on rent,” said Abdullah Alawi, a real estate expert, who has been handling matters in Dhofar for more than 26 years.
“Some citizens tend to rent out their houses during the Khareef season to earn some money because of their financial situation and the need for money to cover their needs; so they rent their homes and go to their own camps or rural homes or live with their relatives during the season.”
Alawi owns a real estate brokerage office that rents some 60 apartments and 30 villas during the Khareef season.
He said, “The office employee visits the houses and makes sure they are safe for visitors before they are given out on rent. The rent prices vary according to the level of the house and the number of rooms, and tourists can choose them according to their budget.”
Document leases
“Three years ago, Dhofar Municipality, citizens, and businessmen had discussed the issue of home and apartment renting and they had agreed to appoint real estate officers who would document leases of homes with customers during this season,” Alawi explained.
“As far as I know, no citizens rent their houses illegally, but because there are apartments in Dhofar belonging to owners from outside the governorate and from the GCC countries, they manage their properties by themselves and sometimes they rent them to their relatives and friends on
friendly terms.”
Al Hassan said, “The villas and apartments are considered to be affordable and accessible to tourists, because our objective is to serve the tourists in the first place. Moreover, we aspire to have a professional tourism management for services and accommodation in the governorate, and so, the tourists can easily reach them and identify the available options.”
He added, “We ask the governorate to request everyone to abide by the laws and regulations of accommodation service quality, whether tourist hotels that pay taxes or the owners of homes and apartments that offer their places for rent during the season.”
The real estate development committee is working on preparing a real estate guide, which aims to be a reference for all of the real estate, provides data on the real estate options available in the governorate and its prices.
Al Rawas said: “The guide will provide the visitor with comprehensive knowledge about the real estate market in the governorate, where it will provide many of the most luxurious properties of all kinds, in addition to other important properties in the region, and will be available in two copies—paper and electronic—through the real estate application.
“The guide will be updated constantly by a team specialising in real estate affairs.”
“We are keen for the guide to provide an excellent interface for real estate in Dhofar and the team is now working to provide electronic real estate maps to facilitate the service for investors and tourists,” he added.