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Hotels and airports profit from Oman’s rise in visitors

European tourists were second only to Omani natives in terms of hotel guests in January Shutterstock/Jaromir Chalabala
European tourists were second only to Omani natives in terms of hotel guests in January
  • Hotel revenues up 17% in January
  • 1.4 million airport passengers
  • Indian visitors most common

Revenues for hotel operators in Oman rose by 17 percent to OR25 million ($64 million) in January as passenger numbers through the sultanate’s airports increased by more than one-fifth.

Oman welcomed more than 1.4 million people through its main airports in Muscat, Salalah, Sohar and Duqm, according to data from the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).

India topped the list for passenger nationalities arriving at Muscat International Airport, followed by Bangladesh and Pakistan.

In 2016 the sultanate launched a 25-year strategy to increase the number of tourists visiting more than fourfold, from 2.6 million in 2015 to 11.7 million a year by 2040.

Oman wants to increase tourism’s contribution to GDP to 6 percent, from 2.6 percent, by building hotels and promoting destination “clusters”.

The total number of hotel guests rose by 20.5 percent year on year to 215,660 by the end of January 2024, according to the NCSI.

Omanis made up 75,219 of the guests total; followed by European (73,325) and Asian visitors (27,191).

There were 11,961 guests from other GCC countries and 7,231 Americans in the first month of 2024.

In a bid to control development in the sector, from the start of last month, Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Tourism has refused to accept any requests for new hotels in the Muscat governorate, aside from Quriyat and Al Amerat. Applications for hotel apartments in Salalah will also be refused.

The sector is likely to benefit further from the announcement last year that a unified GCC-wide tourism visa would be introduced in 2024 or 2025, It will allow holders to travel across the six Gulf nations – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

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