New frontiers for Oman’s tourism agenda

11 Feb 2013

ATM 2013 road show lands in Muscat as industry backs US$39 million investment into development of Dhofar province and diversified economic focus for the Sultanate

Muscat was the penultimate destination for the ATM 2013 road show, which took place today (Monday 11 February) in the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Previous road show locations included Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon with the final event taking place in the UAE.

The Sultanate of Oman is taking a 360-degree look at its tourism product as government investment and private sector interest raises the profile of the country’s diverse geography with a raft of pipeline projects underway from Khasab to Salalah.

“The Omani government has allocated US$39 million to develop tourism sites in Dhofar province this year, as the annual Khareef (monsoon) season attracts increasing numbers of local, regional and international visitors. This shift of focus outside of the capital, Muscat, is a clear sign that the Sultanate is powering ahead with a well thought-out and diversified plan for tourism growth,” said Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.

Muscat International Airport’s new multi-million dollar terminal is set to open next year, with the capacity to handle 12 million passengers per annum, with the potential for a projected 48 million passengers upon completion of its long term phased expansion programme. To the south of the country, new tourism hotspot Salalah is also preparing for one million passengers each year once it debuts its upgraded airport in 2014.

Both Qatar Airways and Oman Air are launching new services from Salalah in 2013, with the airport recording a 23% rise in passenger traffic to 629,000 travellers in 2012 against 2011.

Oman will have a strong presence at ATM this year. Major exhibitors include the Oman Ministry of Tourism and Oman Air.

Hotel room capacity in the country is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 5.3% over the period 2011 to 2016 and the Sultanate currently has approximately 5,331 rooms – or 7% of GCC expected supply – under development, with some 2,000 hotel rooms ready for business by the end of 2013, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

In Salalah, a Club Med, Mövenpick and Rotana will add a further much-needed 1,158 rooms to the market, with another two five-star hotels and supporting mixed-use facilities in the pipeline as part of the Muriya Tourism Development initiative.

According to Alpen Capital’s 2012 GCC Hospitality Industry Report, released last October, tourist arrivals into Oman are expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.7%, between 2012 and 2022 and the Ministry of Tourism aims to increase the GDP contribution of tourism from 2% in 2011 to around 3.5% in 2015.

Occupancy rates are expected to increase from 53% in 2011 to 58.6% by 2016. Average daily rates are also set to benefit as occupancy rates strengthen, increasing from US$245 in 2011 to US$258.9 by 2016. Overall the hospitality market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 8.6% between 2011 and 2016.

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 set to celebrate its 20th anniversary, the show has grown to become the largest showcase of its kind in the region and one of the biggest in the world.

New to the 2013 event, ATM is launching the Digital and Technology Day focusing on online travel developments and showcasing headline speakers from across the industry.

Taking place again this year is the New Frontiers Award, which was created to recognise outstanding contributions to tourism development in the face of overwhelming adversity.

Industry Careers Day will wrap up the week providing the opportunity for visitors looking to make a career move to meet with the exhibitors’ HR contacts looking for their next recruit. 


Photo caption: Oman is planning a strong participation at Arabian Travel Market 2013.

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