Muscat: A number of tourist destinations in the Sultanate had a huge influx of tourists in the first half of 2018, with 409,449 visitors of different nationalities visiting nine destinations.
The Ministry of Tourism is monitoring tourist flow at various destinations to carry out more development of the sector due to the rise in the number of visitors. It would plan more projects and work on it in light of the available statistics regarding the interests shown by the tourists.
The biannual statistics released by the Department of Information and Statistics of the Directorate General of Planning, Follow-up and Information in the Ministry of Tourism indicated that the number of visitors to Jabal Akhdar was 93,307 between January and June this year, of which 28,904 were Omanis, 4,063 GCC nationals and 3,060 were other Arabs.
The number of foreign tourists reached 56,735 during this period. The number of tourists of the aquatic pools in the Wilayat of Wadi Bani Khalid in the first half of 2018 stood at 80,982. It included 21,540 Omanis, 215 GCC nationals, 1,693 other Arabs and 57,534 foreign tourists.
As far as Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve of Ras Al Hadd in the Wilayat of Sur in the Governorate of South A’Sharqiyah is concerned, the number of tourists to this destination in the first half of 2018 reached 21,489. This includes 3,435 Omanis, 629 GCC nationals, 942 Arabs, 16,295 foreign visitors and 188 students. The number of tourists of different nationalities to Al Hoota Cave in the Wilayat of Al Hamra in the Governorate of A’Dakhiliyah in the first six months of 2018 reached 30,867. The Ministry of Tourism has added new destinations to the tourists’ map of the country.
This is as part of its efforts to develop this sector.
The number of tourists to the wildlife sanctuaries in the first half of 2018 was 267. These reserves are also in the list of destinations where tourists flow is being studied. The number of visitors to the Qurm Natural Reserve reached 480 in the first six months of this year. During this period, the number of tourists who visited Al Ansab Lake stood at 1,034. The number of those who visited the Daymaniyat Nature Reserve in the first half of 2018 reached 10,580. There were 170,543 people who visited the castles and forts in the Sultanate during the first half of 21018.
Eid Al Adha
Various tourist destinations of the Sultanate had major influx of visitors during Eid Al Adha holidays. Jabal Akhdar had 16,096 visitors between 17 and 24 August 2018, who enjoyed exceptional climate and scenic nature of these green mountains. The easy access to Jabal Akhdar and the facilities have increased the number of tourists. This has encouraged tourists to prolong their stay here. The Ministry of Tourism has intensified promotional campaign for Jabal Akhdar as a major tourist attraction.
Azhar bin Khalfan Al Toobi, Assistant Director of Tourism in the Governorate of A’Dakhiliyah said that the tourists heading towards Jabal Akhdar were received at tourist services centre of the ministry located at the entrance of Jabal Akhdar. A number of employees at these centres provided information to the tourists during Eid Al Adha holidays from morning till afternoon.
Al Toobi said that the holidays of Eid Al Adha coincided with the season of planting a number of fruit trees at Jabal Akhdar, including grapes, pears, figs and apricots. The citizens utilise this opportunity to showcase their products. The tourists, who visit Jabal Akhdar regularly, taste these fruits and buy their different species to take home as the best gift that explains the story of their visit.
During the period between Sunday, 19 August 2018 to Saturday, 25 August 2018, the water ponds in the Wilayat of Bani Khalid in the Governorate of North A’Sharqiyah received about 10,590 visitors, including 2,284 Omanis, 7,682 Asian visitors, 431 Europeans, 4 Americans, 24 Emiratis and 4 Bahrainis, 4 Saudis and 157 other Arabs.
Talal bin Khalfan Al Shu’aibi, Director of Tourism in the Governorate of North A’Sharqiyah, said that the governorate was experiencing a tourist influx during holidays because of its attractions, especially water ponds in Wadi Bani Khalid and its wonderful view.
He said that the ministry has organised a number of events during the Eid Al Adha holidays to activate domestic tourism and enrich activities, which encourage tourists to spend their times in various wilayats of the governorate.
He added that this had positive impact on tourism in the region. The Ministry of Tourism organised Eid celebrations in Wilayat of Ibra, which was participated and visited by a large number of people of the area.
Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve attracted 2,850 visitors during Eid Holidays (Tuesday to Friday). It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region.
Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran) is working on several development and improvement plans for the reserve, so that the tourists have better experience and increase their numbers to this destination. As part of the plan, the staff of the reserve is being given additional training and their skills are being further developed.
Omran is also working on development plans of the mountain tracks. This will create more job opportunities for the citizens to hold key positions and manage the reserve and hotel operations.
According to the plans, there would be three mountain tracks, which will show beauty of the nature. All the rooms and tents of the centre will be renovated by the beginning of 2019. The nesting beach will be improved, the turtle viewing floors will be constructed and the low-rise walls will be built to save the small turtles.
The number of visitors to the Governorate of Dhofar during the holidays hit above 85,000. Marwan Al Ghassani, Director of Promotions at the Directorate General of Tourism in the Governorate of Dhofar, said that the directorate was cooperating with tourism partners to promote the season after the end of Salalah Tourism Festival. At this time, the tourists flow decreases due to the start of schools and universities.
“We are working with airlines to continue the same number of flights as they were at the peak of Khareef season and to support cooperation with hotel establishments to offer encouraging marketing offers,” he said.
Al Ghassani added that in cooperation with local, regional and international organisations, efforts are being made to allocate this part of the season for meetings and conferences in Salalah city. This idea has come following the opening up of many hotels, which have suitable halls and other facilities to meet the requirements of conferences and meetings.
At Iteena Plain in Salalah in the Governorate of Dhofar, the Directorate General of Tourism organised various cultural and recreational activities during Eid Al Adha holidays in the second, third and fourth days of Eid from 5 pm to 11 pm.
These events witnessed a great turnout, especially families, which found it as an outlet during the vacations. The events also promoted the tourist attractions and landmarks, as well as introduced Omani arts, crafts and handicrafts.
In addition to entertainment and cultural activities, traditional performances, folklore arts, competitions and traditional games were also presented. A small commercial market for producing families, a handicraft centre for Omani handicrafts, entertainment for adults and various sections for children and families, such as cartoon shows, face painting, henna and other entertainments were also part of these events.
The events organised by the Ministry of Tourism in various governorates attracted large number of visitors who came to enjoy the various programmes presented during the events.
In the of Governorate of South A’Sharqiyah, the Department of Tourism organised activities across all the wilayats of the governorate on the second day of Eid Al Adha. These activities included traditional horse show, locally known as “Ardha” on the Ne’mah beach in the Wilayat of Sur, in cooperation with the Sur Equestrian Club. It also organised three-day folklore arts and traditional games, in cooperation with Al Saqla tourist camp and Amjad Al Sharq team. It was participated in by the local communities of Jalan Bani Bu Ali. In the evening of the third day of Eid, recreational activities were organised at Masirah Island. This included an exhibition of handicrafts of producing families, which was organised, in cooperation with Masirah Sports Club.
In the Wilayat of Ibri, the Tourism Department of the Governorate of A’Dhahirah and the Tourism Committee of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Oman organised festival “Our Eid in Al Duraiz,” in cooperation with the local people and youth of Al Duraiz village. This was participated by a number of teams, companies and institutions of the village. It continued throughout the entire holidays of Eid Al Adha.
There was also a festival of paintings about history, tourism, heritage, customs and traditions in the Governorate of A’Dhahirah. The governorate is distinguished by its customs and arts practiced by the local people in their national, religious and social events and celebrations.
Horse riders performed dazzling and interesting performances of horse skills and arts. A team of folklore arts of Al Duraiz village presented traditional dances and song shows, which they perform at many social and family events. The festival included an exhibition of heritage, crafts, folk and entertainment games for which Ibri village is known for.
A number of activities of the “Joy of Eid” were organised at the Sohar Recreation Centre and the Silver Jubilee Park of Sohar. It attracted a large number of visitors who enjoyed the cultural and heritage activities. There were celebrations named as “Welcome Eid” on the second day of Eid Al Adha at Izki Public Park in the Governorate of A’Dakhiliyah.
In the theatre of A’Rustaq Castle in the governorate of South Al Bathinah several activities were also organised. On the third day of Eid, celebrations were also organised at Khasab Sports and Cultural Club in the Governorate of Musandam.
The Governorate of North A’Sharqiyah also had a variety of events in Zad Al Rakib Equestrian Ground at Al Yahmadi in Wilayat of Ibra. Also there were entertainment activities organised at the Lulu Centre of Ibra.