While hosting a high-profile sailing event such as the RC44 2013 Championship is a sure shot at enhancing the sultanate's sporting and tourism profile, it is also seen as opening up opportunities for fresh investments in sectors like oil, shipping and real estate, according to David Graham, CEO, Oman Sail.
Oman Sail was recently chosen by RC44 Class - a confederation of businessmen looking to create a mark in sailing - to host the tour opener in Muscat between January 30 and February 3. The RC44 Championship Tour, which began in 2007, is a highly rated regatta that is recognised by the International Sailing Federation.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Graham revealed that this event is open just to VIPs and is expected to involve around 200 guests. Oman is the only destination in the Middle East that is part of this challenge, with the remainder of the tour progressing on to Italy, Sweden, Portugal and the Canary Islands.
Some of the contenders include Chris Bake, owner of Team Aqua and managing director of the world's largest crude oil trader Vitol, Torbjörn Törnqvist and Katusha’s Gennady Timchenko who jointly run Gunvor, the Geneva-based commodities trading giant, and John Bassadone of Peninsula Petroleum.
Vitol is in a joint venture with Oman Oil Co - Oman Trading International - involved in trading crude oil, petroleum products, petrochemicals and carbon emissions in the international market. Some of the other owners are from the shipping and real-estate sectors. The 13 participating teams are from eight countries - namely the UK, Italy, France, Sweden, Slovakia, the US, Russia and Poland.
The event is expected to benefit hoteliers in the region, like The Chedi Muscat where most of the guests will stay, and airline operators, like Oman Air, substantially. “Entities such as Oman Shipping Co who is the main sponsor of the event, is looking for some introductions, while for The Wave, Muscat, which is hosting a gala dinner, this is a good opportunity to garner more attention towards their properties,” said Graham. The event is seen to be inspirational for the athletes of Oman Sail, while also providing them with a platform to network with international talent.
The success story of the first leg of the tour will be all about creating a unique experience for the guests.
“We are fortunate that Oman as a destination is unique in its scenic beauty. This event is not going to be a public spectacle like the Extreme Sailing Series, but a more intimate affair with select VIPs. We have got to be a bit careful here, as these are very successful businessmen who are on holiday. They are approached all the time on investment opportunities, so we want to be more natural and cautious about it and make sure that their experience is maintained. We are having a special gala dinner for the owners where businessmen from the region will be present,” said Graham.
Oman Sail is collaborating with some tour operators in the region to cater to the needs of guests looking to try out desert-night camping or venture up to the mountains, which will in turn add immense value to the country's tourism industry.