Sultanate’s capital Muscat sees record number of passengers traveling through airport in 2010 while cruise ship passengers also soar
Arabian Travel Market, the leading travel exhibition in the Middle East, is witnessing strong online visitor interest ahead of this year’s event. Oman’s focus on tourism and cultural heritage is significantly boosting its status as a regional and global leisure hub.
The Sultanate opened its Royal Opera House Muscat in October last year and is pushing ahead with projects including a US$1 billion tourist resort in Salalah and a US$1 billion Oman Conference and Exhibition Centre in Muscat, which is to open late 2013.
“Oman received some 1.6 million tourists in 2010 and Oman’s Ministry of Tourism aims to increase this figure to an ambitious 12 million a year by 2020. Such aspirations clearly show the country’s goal to develop as a major tourist and business destination,” said Mark Walsh, Group Exhibition Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
Muscat’s cruise ship passenger arrivals soared to 231,100 in 2010/2011 from just 44,885 in 2007. The Ministry of Tourism expects this number to exceed 300,000 by 2015. Meanwhile, 2010 saw a record 2.08 million passengers arriving at Muscat International Airport, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The Middle East reported mixed results in the three key occupancy performance measurements in November 2011 due to the Arab Spring, according to industry consultants STR Global, although performances in individual countries differed greatly.
Occupancy fell by 4.3% to 65.8%, revenue per available room (RevPar) eased by 1% to US$121.28, while average daily rates increased 3.5% to US$184.24.
“The political upheaval over the last 12 months has had differing impacts on travel across the region. While there is uncertainty in North Africa and the Levant the oil exporting Gulf states are witnessing greater stability,” commented Walsh.
“Nonetheless, governments across the region continue to plough billions of dollars into tourism infrastructure while leading Gulf carriers such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways expand aggressively,” he added.
Visitor registrations for the four-day Arabian Travel Market show, which opens on 30 April 2012, are already up 132% from the same time last year, at nearly 2,000 visitors.
Pre-registrations from Oman have risen 131% while the number of visitors interested in buying products and services from the Sultanate is up 109%.
The number of visitors who have registered from Europe has risen 94%.
The number of tourists visiting the Middle East is expected to grow by up to 5% this year following an 8% decline in 2011, according to a recent report by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
There were an estimated 5 million fewer international tourist arrivals last year, down to 55 million, due to the turmoil in some of the region’s countries, UNWTO said.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai and approaching its nineteenth year, the show has grown to become the largest showcase of its kind in the region and one of the biggest in the world. Last year 2,232 exhibitors covering nearly square metres, attracted more than 21,000 attendees.