Muscat : It is necessary to distinguish the tourism market of Oman from other destinations to increase the number of tourists while creating the roadmap on what's the type of nationality that Oman wants, according to a top UN official.

Speaking to the Observer on the sidelines of a regional tourism conference, Natalia Bayona, Executive Director, UN Tourism, said, "To increase the number of tourists, it is essential to have air connectivity, a roadmap on what's the type of nationality that you want and what are the next steps when it comes not only for air transportation, but also to attract luxury and sustainable cruises."

On the visa facilitation report, she said, "We mentioned it briefly. But it's true that the more open a country is, it is for the better because less bureaucracy at the end of the day is for the tourists. I feel it's a very good idea. See the European Union, that's a good example. Nearly 54 per cent of international tourism goes to the European Union."

"At the end of the day, the more open and the more coordinated you are which is much better. It's more efficient, for the tourists," she added.

On sustainability in tourism, Natalia said, "Sustainability is the way you assure economic growth, social impact and growth. And of course, environmental preservation. If you have the three of them, you go into sustainability. So, when you are talking about tourism, the good thing about tourism is that it's the most human economic sector."

"When you are creating a sustainability strategy, you need to think about the three things how tourism is helping your community to evolve in terms of employment, in terms of investments, in terms of social cohesion," she added.

She said that Oman had around 4.5 million tourism arrivals last year and it is not bad when you compare the population. “Compared to Saudi Arabia, which is booming with tourism, the uniqueness of Oman is that preservation of heritage and culture has been made a strategy that is focused on bringing people, but as well to go little by little in the way they get connected to other regions and at the end that can help on the preservation of all the routes that you have here. So, I feel that both models are good. The thing is that they are different on the way.”

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