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December 10, 2014

Middle East: Oman Tourism Chiefs Reach Out to UAE-Based Travel Buyers

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Oman’s Ministry of Tourism and its key industry stakeholders have courted the UAE travel trade with a roadshow and educational workshops in a bid to foster further growth in visitor numbers from the country to the sultanate. 

The initiative, staged in conjunction with national carrier Oman Air, provided insight into the sultanate’s current and upcoming tourism infrastructure and presented tactical promotions to help the UAE trade sell Oman to its clients. 

Oman’s UAE offensive coincided with an encouraging industry report revealing the sultanate’s growing appeal among regional business and leisure tourists. Figures released by the country’s National Centre for Statistics and Information disclosed more than 1,004,837 international tourists visited the country in the first half of 2014 (up until the end of June 2014), more than a third of which (387,103) hailed from the GCC. This represented a 10.8 percent increase in Gulf visitors to the sultanate compared to the same period in 2014. 
“Due to its diverse geographical features, Oman is an all-year-round tourism destination, making it perfect for GCC tourists to take short vacations,” said Oman Ministry of Tourism Director General of Tourism Promotion, Salim Al Mamari. “Aside from excellent tourism infrastructure and an exceptional hospitality sector, the country boasts world-class airports offering swift connectivity to several cities in the region.” 

On top of offering attractive travel packages with its partner Oman Air, Oman’s Ministry of Tourism signed agreements with local travel agents to provide cost-effective packages to potential visitors. 

The government of Oman has undertaken proactive measures to stimulate the sultanate’s travel and tourism sector growth, with plans underway to improve airport, road, rail, maritime and hotel infrastructure in particular. 

Around US$20 billion has been earmarked to improve Oman’s transportation alone, according to analytics firm Aranca, while the government plans to almost treble the number of hotel rooms in a two-year period – from 7,636 rooms in 2013 to 20,000 by 2015. These measures are designed to help Oman hit its 3.2 million annual visitor target by 2023. 

The international meeting sector is also on the sultanate’s radar as a source for regional and international visitors, with work well underway on Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC), which will be ready to host international exhibitions, associated corporate events, banquets and weddings from January 2016. 

Standout features include a tiered theatre (3,200 seats); two ballrooms; 13 meeting rooms; five separate exhibition halls offering 22,000 square metres of column-free space and seating for up to 10,000 guests in theatre style; and a VIP pavilion. 

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