Muscat – The Ministry of Heritage and Tourism (MHT) plans RO3bn in investments, increasing the number of hotel rooms to over 33,000 and raising the tourism sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product to RO920mn – representing 2.75-3 per cent of the GDP – all by the end of 2025.
The tourism sector in Oman has achieved significant growth, in line with the objectives set by Oman Vision 2040. The ministry already has RO2.3bn worth of confirmed investments planned till 2025.
Highlighting the targets of the tourism sector, Dr Rashid bin Saleh al Hinai, Director of Oman Vision 2040 Office, said these include attracting investments, achieving financial sustainability, and increasing its contribution to the labour market in alignment with the objectives of Oman Vision 2040.
Efforts are also being made to develop additional indicators, such as labour market indicators, the identity and citizenship index, and the social welfare index in consideration of the objectives of the Omani tourism strategy and the comprehensive tourism development plan.
Preliminary data for 2022 indicates positive growth in the tourism sector, with the number of international visitors increasing from 652,000 in 2021 to 2.9mn in 2022.
“Government revenues from the tourism sector witnessed substantial growth, increasing from RO3.8mn in 2021 to RO12.4mn in 2022, demonstrating a growth of 227 per cent,” Hinai said.
MHT’s investment programme comprises over 440 diversified projects, with investments totalling approximately RO2.7bn from 2021 to 2025. Projects costing RO5mn or more, as well as those supporting local tourism, receive more attention.
Integrated tourism complexes represent a significant investment area, with planned investments of about RO1.5bn from 2021 to 2025. Notable among these is the agreement to develop the Mandarin Oriental Project in Muscat.
To support the targeted investments till 2025, MHT approves private projects based on supply and demand studies.
Ten new project were approved in the first quarter of 2023, while the number of hotel rooms in the sultanate increased to 30,559 in this period.
Furthermore, MHT aims to sign 25 usufruct contracts and offer investment opportunities on land owned by the ministry this year. Financial capacity, employment plans, local content and tourism components are key requirements for investors.
Hinai said that MHT is also dedicated to supporting small and medium enterprises by allocating investment opportunities that will be presented in packages in the near future. Contracts costing less than RO10,000 are awarded to SMEs.
Efforts are underway to preserve heritage and culture by including archaeological sites like Bisya and Salut in the World Heritage List.
“The ministry aims to enable the private sector and civil companies to invest in 25 historical monuments by 2025. Till now, we have signed 12 investment contracts, the most recent of which was for the Bahla Fort.”
Hinai informed that various projects are in progress, including one to monitor meteorite falls, publishing a scientific book on meteorites, supporting private museums and heritage houses, producing sarooj (traditional Omani mortar) for restoration works, continuing archaeological excavations, and attracting archaeological missions.