14 locations to be Oman's new tourism hotspots

Oman Monday 30/May/2016 16:01 PM
By: Times News Service
14 locations to be Oman's new tourism hotspots

Muscat: Fourteen locations across Oman have been selected to become the country’s leading tourist attractions, as part of a plan to attract some five million visitors per year by 2020, an official at the Ministry of Tourism announced on Monday.
In 2014, the number of inbound visitors stood at 2.1 million, according to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).
Some of the suggested clusters include the coastal lands in Musandam governorate, the old cultural areas in Muscat, the forts and mountainous villages in Al Dakhiliya governorate, the coastal areas in North Al Sharqiyah governorate and the frankincense route in Dhofar.
The proposed sites have been included in a draft for the ministry’s 2016-2020 master plan.
Other sites, such as the Bedouin areas in North Al Sharqiyah, Musairah Island and parts of South Al Batinah governorate, will be developed by the ministry in 2021, according to the current plan.
Real Estate Forum
This was announced during the Real Estate Forum, which hosted industry leaders at the Crown Plaza Muscat Hotel
In 2026, three additional projects are planned in Al Dhahirah, Al Wusta and North Al Batinah governorates, while in 2031 the ministry plans to invest in the colourful dunes near the Oman-UAE borders in North Al Batinah, the country’s deserts and the wild western area in Dhofar, according to Ahmed bin Zahran, an official at the ministry who spoke on behalf of Hilal bin Ghalib Al Hinai, green tourism advisor at the Ministry of Tourism.
He said that these locations aim to attract tourists who seek entertainment for at least three days, adding that by the year 2040, some 80,000 rooms will be available in Oman’s hotels and guest houses.
Zahran also said that in order to attract international investments, businessmen who want to invest in Oman’s tourism sector will be exempt from paying income tax for a period of five years from the opening of the projects.
“Oman can be the Middle East’s capital of wellness and history,” said Vikram Loomba, director for hospitality, real estate and leisure advisory practices at PwC Middle East. He pointed out that the Sultanate should focus on middle market integrated tourism complexes (ITC), as residential properties have shown high levels of activity in 2015, with greater demand observed in the affordable housing segment.
He also recommended utilizing modern forms of housing tourists, such as ‘Airbnb’, which is a website for people to list, find, and
rent lodging.
Renting properties
He added that with this technology, homeowners can benefit by renting their properties during holiday seasons.
Meanwhile, Phil Taylor, managing director of team leisure LLC, said the booming tourism and entertainment sector in Dubai and Abu Dhabi can help bring more tourists to Oman.
“Oman has genuine people and history, and this can’t be created,” he said, adding that the Sultanate should focus on a different type of tourism than found in the UAE.ultural venues in 2020.