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Showcasing heritage and development

10 Nov 2020 By MOHAMMED TAHA

The dramatic transformation of Oman’s tourism facilities and offerings in the last 50 years is a reflection of the changes in the country.

The quality of hotels and tourism amenities spread across the sultanate is indicative of the development of the country as a whole. 

The tourism sector has seen remarkable achievements, the most prominent of these being the expansion of tourism facilities providing specialised services in all governorates. These developments have contributed to increasing the national income of the sultanate. In fact, the tourism sector has played a significant role in increasing the national economy according to the latest statistics released by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).

NCSI figures show that there were 3.9mn hotel guests in 2019 compared to 3.6mn in 2018, a growth rate of 10.1 per cent. There were 3.8mn hotel overnight stays in 2019. Muscat accounted for 54.6 per cent of the total guests in the country, with Omanis topping guests’ list and hotel nights (38.9 per cent and 32.8 per cent respectively), followed by Europeans (25.5 per cent and 28.9 per cent respectively), followed by Asian guests (16.8 per cent and 17 per cent respectively)

Forts and castles – star attractions

As many as 426,500 people visited forts and castles in the country in 2019, registering an increase of 16.4 per cent compared to 2018, according to the NCSI. 

Of the total visitors, 251,080 were foreign tourists, according to statistics of the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, which continues to restore and maintain these historical structures that are distinguished by architectural diversity.

NCSI said in 2018, close to 366,360 people visited forts and castles, compared to 319,163 in 2017, accounting for an increase of 14.8 per cent. 

Tourism revenue

In 2019, the total revenue generated from hotel activities accounted for RO276.6mn, which was a growth of 6.5 per cent over 2018. Of that total, 47.5 per cent of the revenue generated came from five-star hotels, 25 per cent from four-star hotels, 8.7 per cent from three-star hotels, 4.4 per cent from two-star hotels and 14.3 per cent from other hotel classifications. 

The total number of visitors during the Salalah tourism season was 766,800 in 2019, accounting for RO78mn in tourism spend, which was 1.4 per cent more 2018 (RO 76.9mn). In 2019, Oman’s total tourism revenue was RO1.3bn, of which RO684.7mn or 52.9 per cent was generated from inbound tourists. Domestic tourism accounted from the remaining RO608.7mn or 47.1 per cent.

Hotels for all pocket sizes

In 2019, there were a total 491 hotels in the country, including 26 five-star hotels, 24 four-star, 38 three-star, 55 two-star and 348 units classifieds as ‘others’. This category of accommodation includes one-star hotels, unclassified hotels, guesthouses and hotel apartments.

Since 2015, the number of five-star hotels has increased from 11 to 26, while one more four-star hotel was added to the list of 23. The number of three-star hotels grew from 27 to 38, while other accommodations categories increased from 186 to 348. These numbers represent a move towards greater diversification in the hotel sector. 

Omanisation

Tourism development has created many opportunities for job seekers, according to NCSI figures that show that the number of hotel employees increased by 7.7 per cent to 20,057 in 2019 compared to 18,627 in 2018. 

Of the 20,057 workers, 7,790 of them work in hotels in Muscat, constituting 38.8 of the total, while 4,070, accounting for 20.3 per cent of the total were employed in North Sharqiyah, 2,559 in Dakhliyah and 2,352 in Dhofar.

The percentage of employees in other governorates engaged in hotel activities accounted for 16.4 per cent of the total of 20,057.

Omanis constituted 31.7 per cent of the total number of employees, accounting from 6,364 workers, an increase of 10.6 per cent compared to 2018. The number of expatriate hotel workers was 13,692 or 68.3 per cent of the total number in 2019. 

The annual growth rate of employees engaged in hotel activities in the past four years is 16.1 per cent.

Tourist projects currently underway

According to the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, it is focused on the implementation of a number of programmes and initiatives of the Omani Tourism Strategy (2016–2040), including the development of 14 tourist projects across various governorates which take into account the elements of sustainability, empowerment of local communities, and enhancing their role in protecting their cultural heritage and customs for posterity.

 

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