Saleh al Shaaibi, director general of tourism development in the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) told Muscat Daily, “The project was handed over to Omran, and we expect it to open this year, perhaps year-end.
“The cave was closed to visitors as it required a lot of maintenance. It had been affected by flooding and there were other issues as well.”
The cave, located in the wilayat of Nizwa, is believed to be over 2mn years old and was discovered by a shepherd.
According to the website on the cave, it is home to over 100 animal species and has a rich ecosystem of lakes and waterways. It is the only cave in GCC that was open to the public as a tourist destination.
Shaaibi said domestic tourism is very important issue now. “We are focusing more on both, international and local tourism. We have to have a good formula and good awareness about tourists in Oman whether they are domestic or international. There has to be a good communication and good awareness working hand in hand.
“If the citizens are not aware about the importance of domestic tourism, there will be resistance and this will affect the tourism sector. We also want domestic tourism to be beneficial for citizens.”
To push domestic tourism, MoT is heavily investing in infrastructure and developing public places like toilets, stop-overs and service areas.
Speaking about other plans, he said, “At the same time, we want to preserve our identity and want Oman to be a natural and cultural tourism destination in the region. We have a clear strategy on where we want to go. We have a strong element that other countries in the region lack.”
Focus is also on promoting adventure and sustainable tourism. This plan includes developing local youth hostels, green houses and farms to host tourists.
“We are also promoting heritage properties which can be converted into hotels or restaurants, and focusing on green tourism to sustain our resources.
“We are also promoting non-financial tourism where local people can preserve their history and culture and present it to the tourists. We are developing trekking trails in the mountains and trying to formulate rules for via ferrata. There is also a plan to promote caves in Oman besides, paragliding, snorkeling, sailing because our country has all these elements,” Shaaibi added.