Muscat – Oman has initiated a novel project to propel agricultural tourism by forging collaborations with several ministries and the private sector.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Khalid bin Hamad al Aghbari, Project Lead at Agritourism Development Company and member of Food Security Laboratory 2023, informed that a team of eight has been formed with staff of Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning, and the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism to set the ground for agri tourism in the sultanate.
According to Aghbari, the team’s objective is to streamline investment procedures, address challenges faced by the nascent agri tourism sector, and amend existing policies and laws to accommodate its needs.
He said agri tourism combines farm visits with learning and leisure, aiming to immerse visitors in the essence of agricultural life and rural culture.
“This model not only educates and entertains guests but also promises an alternative income for farmers, inviting participation in farm activities, savour local cuisine and purchase produce straight from the source,” said Aghbari.
He highlighted the fact that despite potential, there are hurdles such as the absence of specific legislation and dual-use land allocation, which are pivotal for the sector’s operational and licensing frameworks.
He highlighted the Rummana festival held in Jabal Akhdar in August, Oman’s foray into agri tourism focused on cultural engagement and culinary innovation, which was the result of a collective effort by various entities.
Aghbari emphasised the urgent requirement of regulations to safeguard ventures from financial downturns and to attract investment.
With a global visitor count of 500mn to farm-based tourism in 2022 and a projected annual growth rate of 7% until 2030, agri tourism stands as a robust contributor to the economy and creator of myriad job opportunities, he informed. “Oman now positions itself to avail this opportunity, enriching its rural heritage and bolstering economic vitality.”