OMAN POISED FOR HUGE TOURISM GROWTH BUT NEEDS MORE FLIGHTS AND CHEAPER HOTEL ROOMS, AHIC/MEED OMAN TOURISM DAY TOLD
- Oman Air is expanding its fleet to bring more tourists to Oman
- About 4,000 hotel rooms are to be delivered in the sultanate in 2015-16
- The stock of affordable hotels needs to increase
- Dhofar’s rising on the global tourism agenda
UAE, Sunday 02 November 2014: The Oman Tourism Day in association with the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference at the Bustan Palace Hotel in Oman on 29 October heard that Oman has a superb tourism product in the form of more than 3,000 kilometres of pristine coastline, rugged mountains and a rich history.
The conference was attended by more than 50 industry leaders and professionals. Speakers included Oman Air chief operating officer Abdulrahman al-Busaidy, chief executive officer of the Dhofar Tourism Company Edward Chaaya, Issa Sultan Al Ismaili, an Omani tourism entrepreneur and executive director of Oman World Tourism and Raza Ashraf, partner at Abu Timam Grant Thornton.
In a keynote speech, Oman Air’s Al-Busaidy said that the airline aims to increase its fleet to 70 aircraft in its present 10-year plan from 40 now and that it will accept 13 new aircraft in 2015 alone. He said that the number of passengers using Oman Air is forecast to rise to about 4.8m in 2014 from 4.7 million in 2013, but less than 20 per cent are flying directly to Oman. Al-Busaidy said this was partly due to the lack of affordable hotel rooms.
He added: “I hear some five star hotels have occupancy of 15 per cent and yet charge 90 riyals per night,” Al-Busaidy said. “There is an opportunity here for the winter and summer to promote tourism. If we had decent rates we could attract people from the GCC who would come for a couple of days and go to Salalah.”
Oman Air has launched a hotel stopover programme that provides Oman Air passengers with affordable room rates, where Al-Busaidy called on more Omani hotels to join the programme.
“If hotels could invest in five rooms per night in our stopover hotels scheme, it would make a big difference.” He said.
Government figures show Oman has 282 hotels of all types with 22,404 bedrooms. The majority were small and family-owned hotels and residences. STR Global Area Director for the Middle East and Africa Philip Wooller said that occupancy for 4 and 5 star hotels was more than 70 per cent. The ADR rose by 7.6 per cent in the year ending September to $200. Wooller said STR’s September hotel census showed that there are plans to build 6,000 new hotel rooms in the sultanate.
Dhofar Tourism Company’s Chaaya said the Salalah’s tourism potential is unlimited and that government action has increased the attractions of investing in projects in and around the port city.
"There has been great improvement in infrastructure including industrial and touristic projects with upgraded facilities, such as hotels, resorts, restaurants, shopping malls and recreational facilities,” Chaaya said. “Three mega projects were partnered by the Ministry of Tourism and more are in pipeline, all helping in creating multiple employment opportunities for local talent and new graduates."
Chaaya also called on international hospital brands and resorts to allocate marketing funds to promote the destination. A Dhofar destination committee should be founded, Chaaya added.
Ramzy Fenianos, Development Director at Starwoods Hotels & Tourism also said:“We are confident that Oman’s tourism sector backed by the ongoing major projects will bring many hotel developments opportunities for Starwood both on the Midscale and Luxury segments in addition to potential opportunities for conversions considering the large number of unbranded Hotels in Muscat.”
Oman Tourism Day was held in association with AHIC 2015 Conference, which will take place next year from 5-7 May 2015 at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. The Conference is organised by Bench Events and MEED, and will include key participants such as: Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Jumeirah Group, King Abdullah Economic City, ACCOR, Al Habtoor Group, Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International, Moroccan Agency for Tourism Development – SMIT, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Wyndham Hotel Group, AECOM, Argentina Ministry of Tourism, Citymax Hotels, Colliers International, Drake and Scull International, ESPA, Faithful + Gould, FRHI Hotels and Resorts, Golden Tulip Hotels Suites, Hotel Partners Africa, HVS, IFA Hotel Investments, JA Resorts & Hotels, JLL, Meliá Hotels International, Premier Inn, Roya International, Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA), Schneider Electric, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, Shaza Hotels, STR Global, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, Tourism Finance Corporation Kenya, and Worldhotels.
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