The Ministry of Tourism is working on mitigating the problems facing the tourism industry and has also issued a set of precautionary measures that need to be followed by the sector.
A proposal has been made to form a unified system under the guidance of the Tourism Committee at Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) for all travel and tourism companies to work together to address the challenges facing the sector.
Discussing the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel and tourism companies, H E Ahmed bin Nasser al Mehrzi, Minister of Tourism, held a meeting with industry players as well as Qais bin Mohammed al Yousef, chairman of the Board of Directors of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI).
H E Mehrzi said that sultanate’s government was keen to resume work in different economic sectors, including the tourism sector. He said that travel and tourism companies are one of the pillars of the economy and the meeting was a step towards ensuring the sector was ready to resume work.
Yousef praised the active role played by the Ministry of Tourism by interacting with partners in the sector to find solutions for the crisis, dealing with the expected effects, granting incentives to the sector, and submitting proposals to the Supreme Committee dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yousef said that it is important to prepare for the gradual opening of the sector and for the flights to resume, so that travel and tourism companies can develop their plans and programmes. He added that there was need for the hotel industry to provide support to local travel and tourism companies operating in the sultanate, compared to the incentives offered to international travel companies.
The meeting discussed the regulation of work in travel and tourism companies, setting standards for competitiveness in the market, and creating a unified system to be followed by travel and tourism companies, through the formation of a committee emanating from the Tourism Committee at OCCI, which will contribute greatly to addressing the challenges facing these agencies.
The participants in the meeting also touched on many demands that included restructuring loans for travel and tourism companies and paying the financial dues of the companies by various institutions in the country, in addition to providing incentives by airlines and hotel establishments, exemption from rents, and providing an opportunity for tourism companies and offices to refund the travel tickets that were not used by passengers due to the suspension of flights.
A medical certificate should be requested from tourist/hotel guests before they arrive, reservations should be made online to avoid the use of paper documents, and health insurance for all tourists should be ensured before completing reservation procedures. Trips should be organised in small groups, not exceeding 15 people, to facilitate physical spacing procedures.
The guidelines aim to provide personal protection for all workers in travel and tourism offices, tour operators, those engaged in tourist transport activities, tour guides, and tourist groups to follow a high level of precautionary measures against COVID-19.
The employers should train their staff in customer interaction procedures and virus prevention mechanisms, as well as physical distancing measures, and sustainable provision of facilities for hygiene and sanitisation, besides personal protective equipment.