A study on the possibilities of promoting domestic tourism in the Sultanate was on the table of the sub-committee affiliated to the Culture, Media and Tourism Committee of the State Council, during its meet on Tuesday chaired by Dr Mohammed bin Hamad al Shueili.
The study was aimed at highlighting the importance of activating domestic tourism sector, identifying the policy guidelines, legal and legislative procedures for the sector, identifying the challenges it faces, enhancing its competitiveness, assessing tourism needs, and investing the elements of Omani history and literature in the presentation and production of cultural tourism projects, in addition to enhancing the role of wilayats in stimulating domestic tourism.
As for the impact of Covid-19 on the tourism sector in general, experts said that the sector may take years (up to 5 years) to recover from the impact of the pandemic, as it is completely paralysed with the cessation of travel and movement between countries, indicating that the cost of travel will be high with the application of more measures and more complications at airports.
“Global tourism has been greatly affected by the pandemic which will change the preferred tourist patterns and, at the same time, will revive domestic tourism as it is a safe haven for the sector”. “Tourists will turn to more isolated tourist patterns such as camping tourism in the deserts and ecotourism, besides going more for heritage and environmental lodges, or resorts which have long, extended beaches’’, Osama Mustafa, a tourism expert, said. He added that this attitude can be of great advantage for Oman if exploited properly.
“Oman is rich in natural tourism components, and moreover tourists may tend to book smaller hotels, which is a good opportunity for the owners of certain projects such as ecological and heritage lodges, given their simple nature. In addition, tourists will be interested in travelling to countries which have a good medical record, and their ability to deal with and control the coronavirus, and this has been proved in the Sultanate”.
Tourism in the Sultanate has been distinguished by targeting quality tourism, not quantity. It also has an international, well-known record regarding the visitor’s sense of security on its land.
For the future of tourism, Mustafa noted: “The next stage will witness a gradual recovery, hopefully especially with the application of preventive measures. The tourism sector, which includes several areas such as hotels and resorts, travel offices and tourism agencies, is expected to witness local growth as most of the tourists (citizens and residents) will travel within the Sultanate, and enjoy its scenic landscapes and parks until the restrictions are completely lifted regionally and globally”.
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