Oman plans a rush of hotel openings this year
Some 70 hotel facilities will open over the year across all governorates of the Sultanate of Oman and at various classification levels, TTN has learnt in a recent interview with Haitham bin Mohammed Al Ghassani, Director General of Tourism Promotion at the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism in the Sultanate of Oman.
“In line with Omani Tourism Strategy 2016-2040, we are focusing on achieving balance in tourism development by finding qualitative projects and new ideas across varied governorates of the Sultanate of Oman based on the nature of the region.
“As for the capital, Muscat, it is expected that about 19 hotel facilities will open during 2022 with private investment at various levels. These facilities will add more than 3,000 new hotel rooms in the sector.”
In addition, agreements have been signed to implement integrated tourism complexes, such as the integrated tourism project Yiti and the Rawasi project, in addition to some new tourism projects in the Corniche area in the Wilayat of Muttrah. At various classification levels, this will result in the opening of 70 hotels across all the governates this year
“Oman is a secret Arabian gem. It’s a place where you can discover new things every day – whether that be our culture, our nature, or our history”
– Haitham bin Mohammed Al Ghassani
“The Ministry also seeks to invest in the heritage sector by concluding agreements in the management and operation of some archaeological sites of historical value, such as castles and forts, after they are maintained and prepared. This will add a unique experience for the tourist to familiarise with historical knowledge and link with the most important tourist attractions surrounding the landmark and highlight the area historically and touristic ally as Nizwa Castle Rustaq and Jibreen Fort in Bahla Province,” said Haitham bin Mohammed Al Ghassani.
The tourism sector is one of the main drivers of the economy of the Sultanate of Oman according to the Oman 2040 vision, and the ministry works closely with the government and private sectors to achieve this vision.
“In line with our goal to achieve Oman Vision 2040, tourism development is the mainstay for attracting international investment to develop the tourism sector by building a diversified and integrated sector that supports local communities and provides employment opportunities for Omani citizens while preserving the traditions and culture of society and preserving the history of Oman.” VISA EXEMPTION
Oman recently exempted citizens of 103 countries from entry visas for a stay of up to 14 days, which will serve as a boost to the growing tourism sector in the region.
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“From its capital city Muscat to the abandoned villages that lie in the rugged peaks of the Al-Hajar mountains, Oman is filled with stories and it’s writing a new chapter as we speak. Oman is a secret Arabian gem. It’s a place where you can discover new things every day – whether that be our culture, our nature, or our history.”
The pinnacle of ecotourism, meanwhile, can be found on the beaches of Ras Al Jinz, where thousands of turtles migrate to nest every year. The reserve is believed to be the biggest turtle hatching spot in the Indian Ocean with up to 60,000 eggs laid per season by the endangered green turtle. Night time tours are run by conservationists between April and August. During those summer months, visitors should also venture to Jebel Shams or Jebel Akhdar - meaning Green Mountain - to experience two of the most breathtaking summits in the region.
The capital city Muscat is awash with cultural hotspots including the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Royal Opera House Muscat and the buzzing souqs of Mutrah. There’s a mixture of modern art, historical museums and ancient buildings on offer here, forming a warren of bustling backstreets in the Old Town.
Across the nation, other historical destinations include UNESCO World Heritage Site Bahla Fort - a fascinating mud brick fortress in the Omani desert, dating from between the 12th and 15th centuries.
Elsewhere, noteworthy spots include the royally protected Land of Frankincense in the Dhofar region, harking back to the nation’s former lucrative trade routes. The ancient city of Qalhat also features the domeless Bibi Maryam mausoleum, one of the very few remnants of what was once a bustling trade hub. KEY DEVELOPMENTS
“The Ministry is currently seeking to conduct a consultative study to develop a plan for the management of areas of a special nature, such as the Al Sharqiya Sands area in North Al Sharqiya Governorate, which it is a tourist area with a distinctive environment, and the study aims to set the regulatory controls for the area,” Haitham bin Mohammed Al Ghassani tells TTN.
“It carefully focuses on all relevant aspects to prepare it for tourism purposes in line with the outputs of the Omani tourism strategy, given its specificity and environmental/desert nature. Facilitations and incentives for investors with regard to licenses and procedures to invest in areas of a special nature will also be offered.
“Another example of this is the Wadi Shab. The ministry seeks to attract investments to some areas that need to establish distinctive tourism projects, as it was recently approved to establish an integrated tourism complex project in the state of Khasab in the Musandam governorate, where the investor will be given an opportunity to establish real estate components and tourist facilities, to encourage Investment and sale of real estate units in the region to form a tourist and economic attraction for the region.”