Tapping tourism potential
The Sultanate’s beautiful landscapes and diverse tourism options capture the hearts of Omanis and tourists alike
A country of breathtaking natural beauty interwoven with a kaleidoscope of history, legends and adventures, the Sultanate of Oman has tourism destinations that suit the taste of different categories of tourists and visitors. The Sultanate presents opportunities to indulge in a variety of tourism activities in their varied mountains, deserts or beaches; enabling visitors to have new and unique experience of adventure, camping, sea-cruises, beach sports and more.
Tourists will find diversity that mixes modernity with the past; as Oman’s tourism meets the desire of tourists that look for a luxury and recreational holiday, as well as keeps in mind the interests of those looking to explore archaeological landmarks. The ministry of tourism in collaboration with other tourism entities provides special offers and facilities to encourage visiting tourism destinations in all governorates of the sultanate throughout the year.
Visitors can enjoy the beauty of wadis such as - Wadi Bani Khalid and Wadi Shab, and natural springs like - Al Kasfah Hot Spring and Al Thowarah spring. Jabal Akhdar and Jabal Shams are some of the mountain ranges that are worth a visit and are characterized be their moderate temperature during summer. Oman is home to wonderful gems that provide visitors with unique experiences – the Khareef season in Dhofar is one such gem that attracts tourists from Oman and beyond.
A number of tourists, citizens and residents have expressed their preference to spend holidays in Oman which is targeting different categories of tourists and encouraging them to visit the country again, as well as inviting them to explore the country’s unique tourism elements.
Tanja Walter, project manager of the Development Cooperation with the Middle East and North Africa from Germany said: “The Sultanate has several tourism attractions to offer - right from the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Al Alam Palace to famous traditional markets like - Mutrah Souq. Close to the capital city - Muscat, several areas are characterized by archaeological sites and architectural symbols representing Omani culture such as - Nizwa Fort, Jibreen Castle, and many other historical places that highlight the heritage of Omanis. I think all these elements are fascinating for visitors like me, who have witnessed the development of the Sultanate into a tourist destination of international repute. I am confident that Oman has several more tourism destinations that are worthy of my visit in the years to come.”
She added: “I have visited the Sultanate four times over the past couple of years and feel that it is among the few countries that has managed to preserve its cultural identity and rich heritage. I am also impressed by the Omanis and their warm hospitality and continue to talk to my family and friends about them; as well as urge them to visit Oman to know the exceptional potential of tourism the country has. I sincerely hope that the Sultanate continues to maintain its position as the cultural capital of the Middle East.”
Balarab Sultan Al Hammadi, mechanical engineer at the Royal Air Force of Oman who enjoys visiting wadis to practice his hobby of swimming in fresh water and is keen to experience tourism components in different areas in the country said: “Oman has several tourism destinations within it, which are suitable to spend long as well as short holidays. A lot of leisure activities can be indulged in other that visiting wadis - for example – activities of adventure tourism where visitors can enjoy mountain biking, bush crafting, abseiling, diving, snorkeling, kite-surfing, kayaking, canyoning to name a few.”
He explained: “The diversity of the Sultanate’s terrain is in itself a tourism attraction that encourages tourists to visit different regions. For example, one can play sports on the pristine beaches, join several tours which are organized for maritime exploration, have mountain adventures, as well as visit a myriad of places that are of recreational significance. As an Omani, I urge one and all to experience tourism in Oman. At the same time I humbly request my fellow-Omanis and residents to continue to preserve our natural environment and areas of tourism in order to maintain and enhance the image of our country.”
Philip O’Hanlon, psychologist from the United Kingdom averred: “It is good to see that the government is doing everything in their stride to provide tourists and visitors with everything they need. The instructions which are written in Arabic and English on tourism leaflets help tourists to easily reach places in and around Oman. It is remarkable that even the road network has developed beautifully; and continues to develop. In my opinion, the recent establishment of tourism information centers is a boon to tourists and travelers as it helps guide them to the famous places in Oman, and offers them with details regarding the available services, while helping them to choose the ideal areas that match their interests.”
Omani hospitality is another factor that attracts overseas tourists. In keeping with this Philip added: “The people of Oman are welcoming of visitors and tourists; and it is fascinating how their culture combines the elements of ancient tradition and contemporary life. I find myself drawn to understand the culture of Oman, especially as it is unique, and does not resemble the cultures of the countries that I have visited previously.”
Saif Humood Al Badi, electrical engineer at the Royal Air Force of Oman and a nature enthusiast who is fascinated by the beauty of nature in Oman; believes that tourism in the Sultanate has a distinct character. He said: “I believe that tourism in Oman is based on our country’s natural beauty; and the beauty of any country lies in its uniqueness so that the tourist does not feel that they have witnessed it before. The same ideology should be applied in Oman. Even when adding a tourism service or attraction in a certain area, we should ensure that we preserve our natural environment, which can be exploited easily, while making way for the new.”
It is worth mentioning that the ministry of tourism is making continuous efforts to promote tourism products, services and projects in accordance with the Tourism 2040 strategy that is aimed at upgrading the tourism sector in the Sultanate.