Motorhome travel: Your home on the road

T-Mag Wednesday 20/January/2021 20:12 PM
By: Gautam Viswanathan
Motorhome travel: Your home on the road

Oman’s roads and amazing natural beauty make for many amazing travel opportunities, and a new way of travel is only going to make for a better road trip experience.

Motorhomes, also known as recreational vehicles, are steadily gaining popularity in Oman, and have actually seen plenty of interest during the pandemic: an RV is, after all, the best way for a family to see the country in both comfort, safety, and in far smaller numbers that those who often opt for more commercial forms of travel.

To grow interest in motorhome travel, and provide impetus to tourism at home, Omran, the tourism investment arm of the government, recently designated areas reserved for RVs at three hotels in the country.

“Recently, we have witnessed an increase in the usage of RVs by nature and adventure enthusiasts,” said Khalid Mohammed Al Ajmi, director of special projects at OMRAN Group. “As such, we took the initiative to provide this unique service in several prime locations that are known for its picturesque landscape and natural sights.

“Through such projects, OMRAN Group aspires to meet the expectations of tourists and attract visitors from across the Sultanate, providing them a memorable experience,” he added.

The news has been greeted positively by motorhome companies in Oman, who have welcomed the business this will bring, in the wake of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which is sadly still being felt by some sectors in the country.

“Funnily enough, we’ve had bookings for our caravans for hire throughout February and March, not to mention January,” said Aassim Sheikh, brand manager for Oman Motor Homes, which was set up in 2016 to introduce the concept of the RV lifestyle to people in the country. “We’ve unfortunately had to turn back people, because we don’t have any more RVs to spare.”

The company, which is the official agent in Oman for two brands of motorhomes that are popular with RV enthusiasts – Forest River and Thor – import their vehicles directly from the United States, and then sell them onto customers.

It also specialises in setting up mobile trailers for commercial purposes, including food trucks, mobile kitchens, helpdesks, mobile shops, portable toilets, and medical vans, which make up 75 percent of the company’s business.

“We had actually planned on expanding our rental fleet before the pandemic, but 2020 was a bad year for everyone, so we put that on hold,” added Aassim. “Now that demand for our vehicles are picking up again, we will definitely think about expansion.”

Another company specialising in caravan rentals is Camping Caravan Oman, reportedly the first in the country to operate such a service. The company’s owner, Mohammed Al Dhuhli, did welcome Omran’s decision to introduce campsites in the country, but suggested keeping companies like his in the know about such measures, so that they could also plan for its effects accordingly.

“We only came to know about this at the very end, after it was announced,” he said. “Of course, it is a great decision for us, but it would have been nice if they had consulted us during the decision making process, or at least informed us about the developments they were planning to introduce.”

Mohammed currently owns a couple of motorhomes and five caravan trailers to rent out to people, in addition to renting out the caravans of private owners on their behalf, to people looking to experience life on the road in Oman.

He supplements his income by selling spare parts for motorhomes, repairing caravans that need fixing, and setting up mobile toilets and offices for companies that need them on long-term rentals.

“Last year, because of the lockdowns, our business went up when the lockdown was removed, but down when they were in place, because everyone was scared of travelling over fears of infection,” he explained. “This year, though, our business has picked up once again. Traditional camping is really popular in Oman, so I do not see why this cannot be as well.”- [email protected]