Oman will add over 2,000 additional hotel and resort rooms to its portfolio by 2012- 2013, the country’s tourism ministry has said. While 726 rooms will be added in Muscat, niche resorts are also planned in Salalah, Khasab, Duqm and the Hajar Mountains.
“Oman is seeing strong investor demand in the sector, especially in niche properties,” Maitha Al Mahrouqi, undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism said in a statement.
“This is from government sponsored joint ventures through OMRAN and increasing Omani participation. Our approach is to ensure five star developments are located in five star natural landscapes.”
OMRAN is the company set up by Oman’s government to deliver major projects and to manage assets and investments in the tourism sector.
Oman is also hoping to attract more business travellers, and plans to open a massive convention and exhibition centre by 2015. The Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) project will include a 3,000 seat plenary hall, 40,000 square metres of exhibition space, a business centre and four hotels with 1,000 rooms, the statement said.
According to Oman’s tourism ministry, the sector currently contributes to around three per cent of the country’s GDP. International arrivals to Muscat reached 2.4 million in 2011, 14 per cent higher than the previous year, with GCC arrivals rising by 27 per cent, said officials. Saudi tourists alone numbered 60,000 in 2011, up 17 per cent from 2010.
However, the tiny Gulf state has been striving to increase visitor numbers further and has launched several brand promotional campaigns.
Its tourism ministry even recently commissioned the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) to prepare an operational plan for human resources development in Oman’s tourism sector until 2015.