Muscat – Forty plots of land that were given by the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism (MHT) for investment have been withdrawn after the investors failed to set up proposed projects, according to H E Salim bin Mohammed al Mahrouqi, Minister of Heritage and Tourism.
In an interview with Oman TV, H E Mahrouqi said, “Forty plots of lands were withdrawn due to the lack of seriousness of investors,” indicating that this measure came with the aim of organising and developing the tourism sector and giving an opportunity to serious investors.
Talking about the lack of avenues for local tourists, H E Mahrouqi said that around RO700mn is spent outside the country by citizens on foreign tours. “It is our responsibility to reduce this through the establishment of entertainment projects that attract Omani tourists,” he added.
He elaborated that Oman Vision 2040 depends on many aspects in the tourism sector, such as attracting investment, financial sustainability, and the contribution of sectors that aim to diversify the economy.
H E Mahrouqi said that over the next two years there will be a change in the level of services provided at various tourist sites. “Oman will open the largest entertainment project – Al Sharq by mid-2024 in Barka. The other new projects include Al Nakheel Tourism Resort in Barka as well as another one in Quriyat.”
The government seeks to attract investments worth RO3bn by 2023 with a focus on developing public beaches in partnership with small and medium enterprises (SMEs), said H E Mahrouqi.
He said that 90 per cent of SMEs around the world work in the tourism sector, and therefore supporting these institutions in the governorates through concessional financing programmes and low interest loans will contribute to the development of the tourism sector significantly.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that it is necessary to develop infrastructure for domestic tourism and provide quality services and options. There are projects that will be implemented in the coming khareef season in Dhofar, including facilities in Attin Hamreer Plain, Al Mughassil and Darbat, and the construction of a zipline in Musandam.”
According to H E Mahrouqi, MHT will also soon announce tenders for the management and operation of tourism sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List, such as Qalhat and Bat, under which investors will need to provide basic services and guidance to visitors. “The ministry has finalised the guiding principles and special controls for stimulating adventure tourism. The ministry will work on restoring the Omani tourism sector in foreign markets, including European countries.”
He confirmed that there is coordination between MHT and the concerned authorities to regulate the activities of tourist guides and control unlicensed practices by expatriates. He added that the Tourism Law will be launched soon to keep pace with the plans of Oman Vision 2040.