Nine-day Eid holiday good for tourism

Energy Monday 05/August/2019 22:27 PM
By: Times News Service

Muscat: The upcoming nine-day Eid holiday in Oman is going to provide a big boost to tourism in Oman, say tourism officials and hotel managers.
The Eid Al Adha holiday begins on Sunday, 11 August, and ends on Thursday, 15 August, which means the long weekend essentially starts on Friday, 9 August, and goes all the way to Saturday the 17th. According to the Oman News Agency, “Based on the high orders of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, it has been decided that the Eid Al Adha holiday for 1440H for employees of ministries, public bodies, and other units of the administrative apparatus of the State will start from Sunday, August 11 and end on Thursday, 15 August,”
“The official working hours will resume on Sunday, 18 August.” the statement added. Eid Al Adha holidays for employees of private sector companies, institutions and establishments will run on the same dates.
That Oman’s fellow GCC countries also have their Eid holiday during this time of the year also bodes well for the country, with many visitors from other Arab nations coming to cooler parts such as Jabal Akhdar and the Dhofar to escape the heat. Oman is one of the five nations of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, with the others being Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE. Compared to Oman, the holiday in the UAE ends on 13 August.
An official from Oman’s Ministry of Tourism said, “Eid Al Adha has a special place among Omani customs in most of the governorates, where Omanis partake in special customs including making Shuwa and grilling Mashakeek with family, and so they are likely to spend the first few days with their families and friends or only move short distances if they work in one town and originally come from another.”
He added: “However, as the holiday goes on, the influx of tourists might steadily increase after the third or fourth day of Eid. Dhofar is the most popular vacation at this time of year, but there are other destinations with mild weather, such as Al Jabal Al Akhdar, Jabal Shams, and the coasts of Southern Al Sharqiyah. Local tourism between governorates increases the number of hotel bookings and the use of tourist services, which is beneficial for the sector as a whole.”
More than three and a half million tourists visited Oman in 2018, and this holiday could help the country welcome even more visitors this time around.
According to National Centre for Statistics and Information, there were 3,560,000 hotel guests in Oman during 2018, up from 3,313,000 hotel guests during 2017. Of the visitors in 2018, 1,154,000 hotel guests were Omani, making up nearly 40 per cent of all guests last year with Europeans making up about 26 per cent of the total hotel
The Ministry of Tourism has reported that there were around 756,000 tourists staying in three to five-star hotels in Oman in the month of May alone.
Commenting on the upcoming Eid holidays and the business that was expected, Praveen George, general manager at Al Falaj Hotel said, “Yes, this holiday will be good for us, especially since it is longer, and the UAE will also have a holiday at the same time. Each time there are holidays in both countries, we have an increase of visitors coming from the UAE who want to stay at the hotel, so we think that this will be good for business here.”
A tour guide told Times of Oman, “Most of the tourists I guide are from Europe, and so last year the Omani holidays were not the most important factor to them. However, this is a particularly good season for business because of the Salalah tourist season, and this may mean many others will come to Salalah to spend the holidays.”
Locals and expats in the country were also looking forward to the holidays. A poll on Times of Oman’s Twitter page asked what people would be doing and 26 percent said they’d be travelling, with a further nine percent saying they’d be travelling within the city. 30 percent were looking forward to catching up on sleep, and another 36 percent said they’d catch up with family.
Faisal Al Lamki, an Omani national, said, “We will be travelling to Salalah to enjoy the Khareef festival. It is our annual tradition, so we have rented a villa for 10 days this time and everyone is really looking forward to it. I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone Eid Mubarak.”
Siddharth Shah, an Indian expat, said he would be travelling with friends to the Diminiyat Islands, saying, “We have made arrangements with a tour guide to take us, and he will arrange the entire stay for us. It’s really hot these days so we will be spending the day swimming and snorkelling. It should be fun.”
Sharif Khan, who is from Pakistan, added, “This will be the first Eid that my family spends in Oman. I have been here for a while, but I will be taking them up to Jabal Akhdar because they think that this country has nothing but deserts, and I want to show them how beautiful it actually is.”