Tourism sector’s direct contribution to Oman’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to jump from two per cent to five per cent by 2020, Ahmed bin Nasser Al Mahrzi, minister of tourism, has said.
Al Mahrazi stressed that Oman, as part of its strategy for tourism, will develop a roadmap for the sector for the next 30 years, to make it one of the important economic sectors for national income.
The minister pointed out that the growth indicators in the tourism sector saw a significant rise and the added value of the sector reached OMR724 million by the end of 2014, with the number of tourists exceeding two million.
He said the new Omani strategy for tourism will help diversify the sources of national income, pointing out that a detailed strategy has been formulated, and discussion on work and executive programmes has been held.
“We are going to start developing a detailed outline for the Governorate of Dhofar. The Supreme Council for Planning has been directly supervising the implementation of the Governorate of Musandam strategy, including the tourism sector.”
He explained that the strategic vision for tourism is based on two foundations, the first being a series of tourist facilities in one location and the second being the distinctive tourist experiences that may attract tourists who can spend a number of days in specific geographic areas.
Such destinations offer unique and distinctive experiences that linger on in the visitors’ minds for a long time.
He also said that the number of job opportunities that many tourism projects provide in various governorates of the Sultanate have increased, pointing out that the Ministry of Tourism is seeking to accomplish more achievements in this vital and important sector.
The strategic objective remains diversifying income sources and reducing dependence on oil as a major source of national income.
In the framework of supporting and encouraging small and medium enterprises willing to operate and invest in the tourism sector, the minister reiterated that opportunities were granted to those enterprises to invest in the sites offered by the Ministry of Tourism in a number of governorates by facilitating the issuance procedures for tourist licensing.
Turning to the measures taken by the ministry in relation to the tourism sector in the past, he said, “The ministry signed a number of bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding with a number of government and private institutions in the Sultanate for the development of areas of work for small and medium-sized enterprises.”
Recently, Rotana Hotels had announced adding 1,500 rooms in Muscat, Sohar and Salalah over the next five years. Nasser Al Nowais, chairman of Rotana, said there are plans to build three, four and five-star category hotels. “It will provide new job opportunities for Omanis and help them cultivate and develop their skills in the tourism and hospitality sector,” he had said. There are 297 hotels located in all the governorates of the Sultanate.
“Hotels in Oman have 15,424 rooms, with a relatively high growth rate of 7.3 per cent during 2014, compared with the previous year,” said Maitha bint Saif Al Mahrouqi, undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism, said recently.
The Omani tourism sector has witnessed remarkable development over the past years, reflected in the surge in the growth rates of main indices that measure progress in the sector.
“At the forefront is the rapid rise in the sector’s added value of up to OMR724 million in 2014, accounting for 2 per cent of the GDP. The number of tourists surpassed two million, in addition to thousands of jobs that the sector provided for the national labour force,” said Al Mahrouqi.
According to the experts, travel and tourism is forecast to support 116,000 jobs in Oman by 2024, accounting for 8.4 per cent of total employment in the country.
As per a report, the total contribution of travel and tourism to the gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast to rise to OMR3,886.3 million by 2024.