Salalah – Tourism rebounded this khareef season in Dhofar with a 50 per cent increase in passengers travelling through Salalah Airport.

As many as 315,000 passengers travelled through Salalah Airport since the beginning of June till August 13. The number of passengers in the airport in the June to August period of 2021 was 206,657.

In a statement to ONA, Salim bin Awad al Yafei, executive vice-president of Salalah Airport, said the airport has been handling 195 flights per week (incoming and outgoing).

He noted that the governorate has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Gulf region during summer due to its diverse natural features, exceptional weather and varied terrain.

Several international airlines have started khareef season special flights to Salalah, including the low-cost airline Wizz Air, with two weekly flights from Abu Dhabi, and Gulf Air also operating two weekly flights from Bahrain.

Jazeera Airways and Kuwait Airways together operate six weekly flights from Kuwait, while Flynas flies four weekly flights from Riyadh.

Among airlines that operate around the year but increase frequncy during khareef, Yafei informed, are Qatar Airways which has increased its flights to seven per week, Air Arabia to 14 per week from Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, and Fly Dubai operating six weekly flights from Dubai.

National carrier Oman Air and low-cost SalamAir too have increased flights to cater to the demand. “Oman Air is operating 12 domestic flights per day, while SalamAir has nine,” Yafei said.

Salalah Airport recorded a 68.9 per cent increase in the number of flights (international and domestic) to 2,743 till the end of May 2022, compared to the same period in 2021, according to statistics released by the National Centre for Statistics and Information.

Historically, Salalah was known as the ‘Land of Frankincense’ and is home to two Unesco World Heritage sites – the ruins of Al Baleed Port and Khor Ruri, which still bear the signs of trade during ancient times.

Modern day Dhofar is more famous for its white sandy beaches and a selection of four- and five-star beachfront hotels located in integrated tourism complexes (ITC), a growing trend in Oman’s tourism industry.

Hawana Salalah, the largest ITC in the country, is in Dhofar. With tourism picking up pace, in the first six months of 2022 Hawana Salalah welcomed 30,532 visitors.

Mohamed Abdelaziz, acting CEO of real estate and tourism developer Muriya, said, “As part of our pledge to Oman, we have dedicated our strategy to develop Hawana Salalah which aims to unlock the potential of Dhofar and provide the catalyst for further investment in the governorate. Hawana Salalah is Muriya’s flagship destination and has introduced a platform for job creation, local and international investment, as well as tourism promotion.”

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