Muscat: An Oman Air free stayover deal for transit passengers is boosting tourism in Oman, according to the company’s senior holiday vice president.
The initiative, called Oman Air Holidays, began in May after the national airline noticed a significant number of travellers using Muscat International Airport as merely a transit stop, rather than staying to explore the Sultanate.
Richard Bodin, Oman Air Holidays Senior Vice President, exclusively told Times of Oman: “[Oman Air Holidays] packages flights with other elements of travel, and that generally speaking, is hotels. We put that into one package, one price, and we offer that to the international market as a way to encourage people to visit the country.
“A large part of Oman Air’s passenger base will go through Oman onto their onward destination, but not necessarily leave the airport,” he added.
According to Bodin, Oman Air responded by introducing Oman Air Holidays, which offers Oman Air customers incentives to stay in the country.
Bodin said: “What we started doing over the past months is offer a stopover package for free. We’ve been working with a couple of great hotels, the Al Bustan Palace and the Millennium Muscat Hotel, to offer all our passengers, economy, business class and first class, the opportunity to stay in the Sultanate for free and enjoy a night’s stay here, explore the country a little bit, certainly explore Muscat, and then return to catch their onward flight to their destination the next day.
“That has been a really popular package and we are delighted by the number of people who have taken us up on that offer,” he added. For example, one of the packages offered by Oman Air includes a complimentary stay at the Grand Millennium in Muscat. This offer, which began on June 1 and will last until the end of September, aims to break up the trips that people are making through Oman, according to a statement by Oman Air. If people decide to stay even longer and explore Oman, the airline works to negotiate better deals with them for their stay.
Other offers include experiences such as diving and snorkelling, and will expand to include wadi bashing and other forms of adventure tourism aimed at smaller businesses, in order to support local companies.
The Senior Vice President said: “We’re continuing to work with these smaller organisations, so we are currently speaking to an adventure company called 23 Extreme, who are superb in offering climbing, abseiling, caving, and wadi bashing in a very safe and professional manner. They are a relatively small organisation who don’t necessarily have the loudspeaker to get their message out beyond a very small audience, so we are working with them to do exactly that.”
Oman Air Holidays is also working to attract golfers to the Sultanate.
“For example, we launched a golf product, Oman Air holidays Golf with an Omani golf company. We are using our combined efforts to promote Oman as a golfing destination to all of our 56 destinations around the world,” Boden said.
Bodin believes that this strategy by Oman Air will boost tourism and help companies that offer excellent services, yet don’t currently have a large customer base. “It gives smaller organisations a platform to communicate to the wider audience the services they have. Those services will be attractive to that market which, by default, would be to attract people into Oman, which is a major responsibility,” he added.