Usama Bin Karim Al Haremi, Head of Corporate Communication And Media of Oman Air notified that Euromonitor International, the world’s leading independent provider of business intelligence on industries, countries, and consumers with offices in London, Chicago, Singapore, Shanghai, and Vilnius, with a team of over 600 in-country analysts worldwide, has issued in March 2008 its comprehensive report on Travel And Tourism in Oman (97 Tables), which offers a guide to the market at a national level.
The report looked at travel accommodation, transportation, car rental, tourist attractions, and retail travel. It identifies the leading companies and offers strategic analysis of key factors influencing the market, including background information on disposable income, annual leave, and holiday taking habits.
Al Haremi gave notice that Euromonitor International’s Travel And Tourism in Oman report 2007 identified Oman as a new luxury hotspot that is experiencing robust growth in tourism, and that Oman’s government is one of the most pro-active bodies in the region in terms of promoting tourism development.
The government as per the mentioned report, is active in encouraging private and foreign participation in the market, and is a co-investor in many tourism projects. Oman’s natural landscape, the report said includes a long coastline, majestic deserts, several mountain ranges, and a lush southern region. Al Haremi highlighted few sections within 2008 report’s executive summary.
Slowly but surely
The travel and tourism industry in Oman is starting to adopt a new direction whereby growth in all areas and different categories of tourism is increasingly seen as key to Oman’s economic growth. Large-scale projects are starting to emerge, such as The Wave project in Muscat, which is underway and set for a phased completion as early as 2008. Other projects include the development of Al Hoti Cave to make it more easily accessible and attractive, as well as the opening of an increasing number of hotels and resorts, such as the majestic Barr Al Jissah in 2006. Oman is actively repositioning its travel and tourism industry and is slowly starting to see the results of its recent efforts.
From luxury to adventure
A key upshot of this new vision for travel and tourism in Oman is the emergence of adventure/trekking tourism and eco-tourism as a new unique selling proposition. Oman is thus promoting adventure tourism through packages sold by specialised travel retail outlets, the Oman Travel Market exhibition and the Arabian Travel Market exhibition in Dubai. Oman is the only country in the region to provide such a salient blend of cultural, natural, and ecological attractions with countless activities such as diving, desert safaris, mountain hiking etc, all within a natural and well conserved environment, which is rarely found in neighbouring countries.
Oman will increasingly capitalise on adventure tourism as its key competitive advantage and the offer that sets it apart from its neighbours. However, as there is some fear that this category may eat into the lucrative luxury tourism segment, it is likely that Oman will settle for a combination of luxury and adventure, providing tourists with a unique and varied travel experience.
Hotels in the spotlight. Oman’s travel accommodation is underdeveloped and the infrastructure required to develop tourism further has been slow to progress and is in many respects lacking. The number of hotels increased between 2000 and 2006 but growing demand continues to put pressure on what is available and keeps prices high. With financing and investments growing, facilitated by the new law concerned with ownership by foreigners, a lot of attention has been focused on travel accommodation.
Long haul flights and cruises
While Oman Air is working towards establishing its offer for long haul travel by acquiring the required fleet to carry its passengers to and from Europe, the sultanate is becoming a regular itinerary stop for global luxury cruise vessels with an increasing number of tourists arriving in cruises every year. The official debut of Costa Crociere, a top cruise company in Europe and South America, with its Costa Classica in Muscat in 2006 was one of the major factors enhancing the importance of cruises in the sultanate during the review period.
Riding the spa wave. An overarching theme in Oman’s spa category is that there seems to be a natural synergy between the sultanate’s travel and tourism industry and the territory’s existing and potential health and wellness businesses. Establishing a business alliance strategy could turn the territory into a unique health and wellness destination by building on Oman’s abundant wilderness.
The key feature of hotel/resort spas in Oman is that being secondary or tertiary demand generators they may or may not be able to sustain themselves. In order to succeed, however, these spas will need to learn to draw on synergies with the main demand generators of the hotel or resort in which they are located and, in time, become able to sustain themselves as stand-alone units.
Al Haremi affirmed that the Sultanate in fact is focusing on developing new patterns of tourism such as spas, Yachts, eco-tourism, sports, adventure, and conferences, also emphasizing great importance on domestic tourism, being an essential component in the development of the tourism sector in the country. In addition he said that there are many new projects aimed at developing tourist attractions, furthermore provide necessary facilities to promote domestic and overseas tourism same wise.
The government’s further objectives of the tourism sector he said include encouraging the role and contribution of the private sector to become the main investor in the future. Investment in the tourism sector is still in its infancy stages, but the government offers packages, incentives and tax exemptions to private sector players willing to invest in the tourism sector. As far as overseas investors are concerned, the government has allowed them to own properties in tourism projects, since possession will encourage investors to establish tourist projects, Al Haremi included stating.