BANGALORE – The oil-rich Sultanate of Oman has for the first time turned its focus on tapping Indian tourists, recognising the huge potential.
The Oman Ministry of Tourism organised a roadshow here today, focusing on increasing business opportunities and establishing contacts within the Indian travel trade industry.
Similar events are planned in Chennai (January 21), Mumbai (January 24) and Delhi (January 25). The five cities are going to be the focus markets in India for Oman in the next two years, officials said.
Currently, Europe and GCC ( Gulf Cooperation Council )) countries constitute a majority of tourist arrivals to Oman, which numbered 1.7 million in 2010.
At present, the traffic between India and Oman comprise visiting friends and relatives and those travelling for employment. The aim is to see that Indians become number one in tourist arrivals in six-seven years, said Oman’s Director General of Tourism Promotion, Salim Bin Adey Al-Mamari.
The focus on India is part of Oman’s strategy not to “put all eggs in one basket”, in the sense it wants to look beyond Europe and GCC.
Officials are promoting Oman, which has a seven-lakh strong Indian community, as a “safe” country with similar food tastes and people known for their hospitality.
“We are positioning Oman as a niche destination with a right blend of well-preserved heritage and modern design, forts, castles, mosques and ancient buildings,” he said.
Oman’s leading carrier Oman Air , along with Aitken Spence Hotels , Grand Hyatt Muscat , Shangri-La’s Bar Al Jissah Resort National Travel and Tourism, Travel Point and Zahara Tours are some of those participating in the road-shows.
Al-Mamari said Oman would soon come out with an India-specific package, which would include air fare and accommodation, to attract tourists.
Oman’s tourism ministry intends to capitalise on existing historical ties and similarities with India in culture, music, culinary delights and family values.
“We are placing significant emphasis on strengthening our relationship with trade community while positioning Oman as a leisure and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) destination among Indian travellers,” said Khalid Al Zadjali , Director of Tourism Events from Oman’s Ministry of Tourism .
More than two million visitors are expected for the Muscat Festival to be held from January 27 to February 24.
As part of the celebrations, noted singer Sonu Nigam accompanied by Bollywood actor Lara Dutta would stage a performance on February 10, while Shah Rukh Khan, who has a huge fan following in Oman, is expected to perform on February 17.