Muscat: Many tourists visit the Sultanate to experience walking through wadis and climbing mountains, which stand tall, attracting lovers of nature, natural beauty and adventure tourism.
Abdul Rahman Al Abri, a tour guide and owner of a adventure tourism company, said that the Sultanate has many such elements which qualify it to be a promising destination for this type of tourism. Adventure tourism is considered as a popular tourist product, and has a large and promising market. The adventure tourism is varied among those which are in mountains, deserts or seas.
Al Abri said that it was necessary to focus on preparing various sites and protect them to develop adventure tourism sector. It is also important to train those who work in the area, encourage setting of local companies to manage and supervise these sites for adventure tourism. Similarly, laws should be brought to regulate the and open space for local companies to work in collaboration with foreign companies specializing in search and rescue, to be a key supporter of adventure tourism.
He said that there was a need to give a legal base for working in these sites, prohibiting those who work in the area without license. It is also required to attract global adventure enthusiasts organising activities and challenges in these sites on the pattern of mountain marathon.
Nasser Al Habsi practices mountaineering since his childhood in his mountain village. It has become his passion. He uses climbing ropes to enjoy mountains. He says that climbing mountains was good for mental and physical health of a person. For a country, it is a source of financial returns. It enriches tourism sector.
Yacoub Al Rabaani stressed on the benefits of mountain climbing or hiking stating that it was an interesting hobby as it combined sports, entertainment, tours, relaxation, tranquillity and stress relief.
He also highlighted the important role social media played in promoting adventure tourism.
Ahmed Al Rahbi, a climbing enthusiast, who has done a study on hiking, has concluded that the most adventurous age groups for it was 36 years or above.
The majority of climbers are amateur and participate in several teams to gain this unique experience every time. Climbing has been practiced as mountain tourism for more than seven years, particularly by dwellers of the mountain areas.
There are various types of adventure tourism including hiking, mountain walking, adventures of wadis and caves. The mountain adventure teams keep innovating various types of challenging competitions for enthusiasts as a form of encouragement. Among the most popular challenges is Jabal Shams challenge which is sponsored by the ministry.
Al Rahbi said that the most important competitions held recently in Oman were the OMAN-UTMB competition, which is one of the major mountain competitions of the world. This is due to the long distance and difficulty of the track in Jabal Akhdar and wadi Al Hamra. The competition was attended by 47 Omanis and 6 from other nationalities. These mountain tourism is source of income for those who live in the area as it creates job opportunities and avenue to market their local products.