Omani tourism currently relies on visitors, to the south west coast, many of them from other Gulf countries. The authorities believe that Salalah, which has a much more temperate climate than most other cities within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), is the key to attracting tourists to this once completely closed state. This area catches the Indian Ocean monsoon between June and September. While most of the Gulf region suffers from extreme dry heat during that time, the Dhofar province has a cool and misty summer, although travellers from outside the Gulf may not see the attraction of a cool, damp 25C summer holiday.
Although still a tiny industry there, tourism is being heavily promoted and, according to a study by Standard Chartered published in August 2009, the country’s tourism industry has shown resilience during the global slowdown and flu pandemic. According to the report, the number of tourist arrivals over the first five months of 2009 rose by 17.5% year-on-year (y-o-y) and revenues rose by 3.9%. Unlike other GCC states, Oman has relatively minor oil and gas reserves and so has needed to find other sources of revenue. The most recent initiative is a regional one: Iran and Oman have agreed to promote tourism between the two countries and undertake joint promotions to third countries. Oman’s image has been helped by the completion of two new major projects, The Wave and The Muscat Hills Golf & Country Club, and by another vote of confidence in the sector, when Swiss-Belhotel International signed a memorandum of understanding to build a four-star business hotel in Al Khuwair in Muscat in August 2009.
Oman plans to attract 12mn visitors annually by 2020, an almost sixfold increase on the current level. The focus of discussion is how this can be achieved while maintaining the â€˜authentic’ character of the country. The director of sales and marketing at the Chedi Hotel in Muscat, Lore Koenig, said that tourists come to Oman for its culture and history, not because there is a cheap deal going or for guaranteed sunshine.
Oman Tourism Report Q1 2010: http://www.companiesandmarkets.com/r.ashx?id=CW21X23B0191821