Muscat: More than three quarters of a million people visited last year’s Salalah Tourism Festival, according to data from the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).
In 2019, a total of 766,772 visitors came to the Dhofar Governorate, of whom 70.5 per cent (549,900) were Omani, 16.9 per cent were from other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, eight per cent had Asian nationality, and the rest accounted for 3.6 per cent. Leisure was the primary reason people came to the Dhofar, and accounted for 93.2 per cent of all visitors, followed by work (3.5 per cent), and visiting family and friends (1.9 per cent).
Compared to 2018, the number of visitors who came to the Salalah Tourism Festival decreased by 7.2 per cent, with there being 826,400 visitors to the Dhofar in 2018, but represented a 19 per cent increase when compared to 2017. A majority of the visitors – 610,491 – came to Salalah by road, while a further 156,281 came by air. Of these, 102,000 were on domestic flights, and a further 55,000 on international ones.
Despite there being a decrease in the number of visitors during the tourist season in Salalah in 2019, there was a 1.4 per cent increase by 1.4 per cent to reach OMR78 million compared, to OMR76.9 million during the 2018 season, due to increased spending on accommodation and flights.
The Qatari visitors were among the highest spenders, where their average per capita spending came to OMR281.1, followed by Kuwaiti visitors with OMR248.5, the Saudis with OMR124.5, and Asian visitors recording the lowest spending at OMR78.7 per person.
32.2 per cent or OMR25.1 million went towards accommodation, followed by spending on food (24.9 per cent, or OMR19.5 million). Money towards shopping, transportation and entertainment accounted for 24.1 per cent, and this was followed by air transportation costs (18. 8 per cent).
Dhofar Municipality officials are keen to hold the Salalah Tourism Festival every year to coincide with the Khareef season, as it is packed with the most important activities and events that represent a distinct addition to the regular sports and cultural events, adding to the offerings provided to tourists who come to the Dhofar governorate, which has qualities that distinguish it from the rest of Oman.
The Salalah Tourism Festival includes many live performances of Omani arts, local folk dances and heritage games, in addition to cultural seminars, concerts, and various sporting competitions. Therefore, this festival is an opportunity for visitors to learn about the cultural and artistic heritage that characterises the Sultanate.
In August – the month of the Salalah Tourism Festival, OMR97.8 million was withdrawn from ATMs, while 95,000 vehicles entered Dhofar through roads. Fuel sales during this month in 2019 amounted to OMR211.14 million, down from the OMR255.76 million during the same period in 2018, and up from the OMR204.62 million that was spent on fuel sales in 2017.