Tuesday, 9 May 2017

OMAN: Budget Hotels Boost Tourism As Oman Air Eyes 70th Destination By 2023

More budget hotels and apartments are opening in Oman to cater to affordable and mid-market hospitality sector travellers, the Ministry of Tourism said.

After announcing three budget hotels in Mussanah and Barka, the ministry announced that another hotel apartment is coming up at Sohar. “A hotel apartment with 37 rooms is coming up in Sohar, and is expected to open by July 2017,” it said.

Recently, the ministry had announced that construction was in full swing at the 40-room Hisn Al Mussanah Hotel in Mussanah, 30-room Al Salam hotel and 27-room Orchid Hotel at Barka. All these hotels are expected to open within the first half of 2017, the ministry revealed.

Travel agents said budget hotels will give a big boost to tourism as there was a shortage of such hotels in the Sultanate.

“A large number of travellers look for budget accommodation. Having more hotels will be great as these can cater to tourists who don’t look at four or five star accommodations,” said an official of New Star Travel in Ruwi.

He also said, “The global trend in tourism is changing as tourists with high levels of disposable income are seeking something new during their vacations.

“The budget and mid-market hospitality sector will offer a touch of authenticity to travellers,” he added. Oman is looking at 8-12 per cent annual growth in the tourism sector.

Recent NCSI statistics revealed that local tourism contributed 77 per cent to the total earnings in the Sultanate’s tourism sector in 2015.

The 9th Five Year Plan (2016-2020) accords a great deal of attention to this sector, recognising the significant role it can play to attract foreign investments and create employment opportunities.

The data released by the NCSI about tourist indicators also showed that the tourism sector contributed 748.6 million to the GDP, accounting for 2.8 percent, in 2015, up from 2.2 percent in 2014. The tourism indicators bulletin referred to a rise in the number of hotels in the Sultanate, with the country having 318 hotels in 2015, compared to 235 hotels in 2011, an increase of 35 per cent.

Meanwhile, Oman Air has made an ambitious plan to reach its 70th destination by the end of 2023, said Paul Gregorowitsch, CEO of Oman Air at the press conference in Manchester on Tuesday.

The event was organised by Oman Air to mark the launch of its new destination to Manchester. He pointed out that Oman Air’s fleet will reach 70 aircraft of different sizes by the end of 2023 and that Oman Air has developed an ambitious plan to expand its fleets and network and to add new destinations like Hong Kong, Seoul and some African destinations, such as Cape Town.

As for the new destination, Oman Air CEO said that the trip to and from Manchester is an impressive development that reflects Oman Air’s commitment to the United Kingdom (UK) market as Oman Air is the only carrier that operates direct flights from the Sultanate to outside London.

This will give British and Omani travellers the opportunity to enjoy the high quality service provided by Oman Air through its direct flights between North England and Muscat.

“The new destination will enable travellers to benefit from the connection opportunity provided by Oman Air with 27 destinations within three hours of travel.

“Travellers will also enjoy the reduced competitive fares, which provide attractive options to travellers on Oman Air’s fleet between Muscat and Manchester,” he added.

He further said the new flight operated by Oman Air to Manchester on the A330-200 aircraft is the second destination for the national carrier to the UK after the daily double flights operated between Heathrow Airport and Muscat Airport.

The new destination to Manchester is an important addition to the ambitious network expansion plan in a bid to enhance and develop the relations

between the Sultanate and the UK, which is an important trade and strategic partner to the Sultanate.

The press conference included a promotional documentary on the Sultanate’s tourism, cultural and historic potentials, in addition to its traditional markets.

On the other hand, Collette Roche, Deputy Managing Director of Manchester Airport made a presentation on the partnership opportunities and the future cooperation after launching the direct route between Muscat and Manchester. She also highlighted the public services provided by the Airport and the international awards it has captured.