Omani-French event highlights tourism facilities and potential of the Sultanate

Energy Monday 12/November/2018 00:00 AM
By: Times News Service

Muscat: In an endeavour to support the booming tourism sector of the Sultanate, the Omani French Friendship Association (OFA) hosted an event, “Oman tourism - Gearing up for the future”, on Sunday at Kempinski Hotel under the auspices of Maitha Saif Al Marhouqi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism.
OFA aims at providing a platform that promotes friendship, understanding and matters of mutual interest between French and Omani business and social communities active in the Sultanate.
The objective of the Association is to reinforce trade, culture and economic ties through the organisation of various events and activities that address current topics, trends and concerns.
Speaking exclusively to Times of Oman, Badar Al Dhuhli, Tourism Lecturer at Oman Tourism College, said that the event highlights the importance of tourism to Oman and the relationship between Oman and France.
“The event also emphasises how we can attract the French market to visit Oman through bloggers and social media influencers, and of course, highlight the services and facilities for the French market we have in the country,” Al Dhuhli said.
Before this event, four famous French bloggers – Elissa, Maxime, Anne and Osmany Tavares – who come from different walks of life were appointed to travel around Oman and post daily about the beautiful places they visited.
Al Dhuhli added that the tourism industry in Oman is growing rapidly compared to the last 10 years.
“Tourism in Oman has grown three times in the last 10 years. Today, we are talking about 3.2 million people who visited Oman in 2017 and we are also expecting a 25-27 per cent growth in 2018 through the new strategy that Oman developed in the last three years, Oman Tourism Strategy 2016-2040. It aims to attract more than five million tourists by 2030.
“There is a huge expansion in tourism infrastructure – we are talking about the huge airport that has the capacity of more than 20 million passengers every year, expansion of the new Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, new five star hotels inside and outside the city, new projects that will attract more tourists, and a new master plan of Muscat and four other governorates is almost ready to begin implementation through which we are also expecting a further increase in the growth of visitors to the country,” he added.
Al Dhuhli said the strategy is not just limited to an increase in tourists in the country but aims to generate jobs for the locals.
“In addition, this strategy aims to generate jobs for Omanis. It clearly identified more than 200,000 direct jobs to be produced for Omanis up to 2040, and 200,000 indirect jobs in either the logistics or aviation sectors related to the tourism industry.”
He added that the other side of this strategy is also to grow the GDP of the country up to five per cent by the end of 2040.
Moreover, the panellists at the event shed light on existing capabilities and future strategies of Oman to leverage on tourism as a key driver of economic growth and social development.