Air fares to Oman are relatively lower than that of other countries at the moment.

An increasing number of expatriates bound to some of the neighbouring GCC countries are using the Sultanate of Oman as a transit point owing to soaring airfares.

Oman's three international gateways, Muscat, Suhar and Salalah are witnessing a surge in the number of transit passengers, according to travel agents.

"These passengers are opting for Oman airports because air fares to Oman are relatively lower than that of other countries at the moment. For a ticket from, for example, Kochi to Muscat or Suhar, which is close to neighbouring UAE is nearly RO 100 whereas the same to another country where schools are opening is nearly RO 150. For a family of three or four, the difference is really beneficial," Sunil D'Souza, CEO, Travel Point, said.

However, travel and tourism officials say this is not a new phenomenon but this happens every year during pre-Covid era as passengers found alternate ways to reduce the travel costs by choosing cheaper transit options.

"What is new now is that Oman has been chosen by GCC residents as a transit point for leisure as well as a cost effective way of travelling to their final destination," said Venkat Perumal of Indian budget airline GoFirst.

The traffic has heightened lately because of Oman's government's relaxed and well-regulated visa regime and also cost-effective options for all kinds of travellers.

Reports suggest that hotels have already started floating packages targeting transit passengers as this summer has given this industry a new revenue stream.

This increase in the number of transit passengers is invariably supporting Oman's domestic tourism as they spend a day or two exploring the tourism destinations before they head to their work places in other GCC countries.

"Transit passengers bound to other countries get Oman visit visas either on arrival or there are travel agencies who arrange them with visas for a nominal fee. They combine mini excursions to major tourist attractions in the Sultanate of Oman," says Abdullah al Wahaibi, a registered taxi owner at Muscat International Airport.

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