Oman’s fishing heritage transforming into yachting culture

Oman Wednesday 13/January/2016 21:42 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman’s fishing heritage transforming into yachting culture

Muscat: As Oman looks to develop further waterfronts; more sea travellers will look to the Sultanate as a cruising destination, thus adding to the tourism economy, a top executive from leisure industry giant and luxury yacht manufacturer, Gulf Craft, said.
“This presents us with a promising yachting market, not only among resident owners, but also among charters, and even hotel groups that are looking to enhance their service offerings,” Erwin Bamps, chief executive officer (CEO) of Gulf Craft told the Times of Oman (TOO) in an exclusive interview.
The Gulf Craft CEO further said that as more marinas in Oman are developed, boating enthusiasts will be able to enjoy the lifestyle aspect of water leisure, thus transforming what was once a fishing heritage into a quickly growing yachting culture.
Gulf Craft claims to be Oman’s market leader for luxury yachts and leisure boats, and is returning to Omani waters for its exclusive three-day preview event, which kicks-off on Thursday.
“The Sultanate’s rich boating heritage reflects those of the United Arab Emirates and neighbouring markets, such as Qatar and Kuwait, where people have always looked at water as a source of food, business, and entertainment. However, Oman’s key differentiator is its beautiful coastline and mesmerizing islands,” Bamps stated.
Unique Region
Bamps pointed out that with its gorgeous coral reefs and exotic marine life, the Sultanate offers a rich on-water experience that is unique to the region.
“Oman’s natural seascapes form its key asset, one that attract people from the Gulf and around the world, and which entices both residents and visitors to explore the country’s natural wonders,” he added.
Boat enthusiasts are looking for a more luxurious home-away-from-home experience, in which the journey becomes the destination, Bamps noted.
“As their needs evolve and diversify, so will their boating requirements. This is what makes Oman a valuable market for us and what has us returning to the Sultanate year after year,” he said.
With Oman looking to boost its non-oil revenue by focusing more on the tourism and leisure industry, the official said his company’s goals would fit into the Sultanate’s vision as well.
“We believe that the Sultanate has tremendous potential as a tourist destination, and with its unique experiential offering, the country has the ability to offer a very attractive proposition for people looking to explore the region, and therefore exceptional opportunities for generating revenue,” he added.
Bamps said as facilities develop along the Omani coastline, tourists will not only travel by airplane to enjoy the holiday experience, but also by yacht and boat, “and that is where we come in.”
Purchasing Patterns
Oman is currently awaiting the completion of an OMR500 million project that will transform the Port Sultan Qaboos into the region’s primary waterfront destination.
And Gulf Craft, Bamps said, would help enable its success.
“As more people aspire to the waterfront lifestyle, and as one generation of yachting aficionados dawns on the next, our role will always be to fulfil those aspirations. This is not only how we as a company benefit from the Sultanate’s vision, but also how we can help enable its success,” Bamps told TOO.
Asked about Oman’s purchasing patterns and the key drivers in the country’s market for leisure craft, he said, “We are seeing that Oman, which has been traditionally known for its fishing heritage, is slowly moving towards bigger boats and increasingly entering the yachting arena. Today, you frequently find that many owners who have started with smaller fishing boats and family cruisers are upgrading to larger craft.”
He said, “If you look at the overall boating community, it has evolved from one that looks for water leisure in the form of fishing trips to one that desires a floating majlis. Today, sea travel has become more family oriented, it is an experience owners are looking to share with friends and loved ones. Thus, onboard space and comfort has become more important as trips increase in length.”
Boost to Seafaring Culture
CEO Bamps said there are a number of drivers behind these purchasing patterns, which he explained are led by a growth in private wealth, an increase in leisure time and the developments along the coastline that further bolster what is already a deeply rooted seafaring culture.
“In addition, as Omanis travel more extensively and are exposed to different boating communities, they also encounter the many possibilities of water leisure and are therefore inspired to make that experience their own,” he added.