Oman’s tourism sector sees rapid growth

Muscat - 

Investment in Oman’s tourism industry is rapidly increasing, as the country continues to witness the opening of a number of hotels this year, with many others gearing up to open in 2013. The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) has predicted that more than 2,000 resort and hotel rooms will be added in 2012-13.

While the capital, Muscat will experience maximum growth with nearly 726 new rooms, there is an even spread of investment across the rest of Oman with niche resorts opening in Salalah, Khasab and in Hajar Mountains.

H E Maitha al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary at the MoT, said, “Oman is seeing strong investor demand in the sector, especially in niche properties. This is as part of government-sponsored joint ventures through Omran and other private players. Overall, our approach is to ensure that five star developments are located in natural landscapes.

“This approach gives us a competitive edge and fuels investment demand. Additional room supply also generates demand for improved products, with a recent example being the opening of the new Almouj Golf, a Greg Norman signature 18-hole golf course at The Wave, Muscat,” she said.

Unlike previous years, the pattern shows significant investment commitment in regional areas, such as Duqm, Oman’s new city on the Arabian Sea, where three new hotels with a total of 391 rooms, will be opened. Duqm City Hotel, Oman’s first pre-fabricated 120-room business hotel opened mid-2012 and Crowne Plaza Duqm is expected to open any time soon.

There has also been huge interest in Oman’s high altitude Hajar Mountains where both government and private sector investment are on the rise. For the past two years, along with its Salalah Tourist Festival and Khareef promotions, the MoT’s Hajar Mountains summer campaigns have been pitched at day visitors from Muscat and the GCC.

In response to the increasing number of tourists, three major resorts in Jebel Akhdar have  been invested upon. This is in addition to the Sunrise Resort on Jebel Asarh (near Jebel Shams), that opened in early 2012.

In 2012-13, MoT figures confirm growing investor interest in hotel and hotel apartments with 61 and 77 approvals handed out respectively, although completion dates go beyond 2013.

Property group Muriya opened its Sifawy Boutique Hotel at Jebel Sifah (50km east of Muscat) in early 2012. Its Juweira Boutique Hotel at Salalah Beach (64 suites and 21 guest rooms) opened mid-year. Further, 2013 will see more hotels open at the Jebel Sifah and Salalah Beach.

Oman’s entry into the global business and meetings market will accelerate with the opening of the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) in 2015. The OCEC project comprises a 3,000 seat plenary hall, 40,000m2 of exhibition space, business centre and four hotels totalling 1,000 rooms.

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