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| 21 May, 2018

Oman to attract $50bln in tourism investment by 2040

The Tourism Ministry says it has applications for 81 new hotels at the moment.

Tourists visit a cave at Ain Razat, a water spring in Salalah, Dhofar province, Oman August 20, 2016. Picture taken August 20, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Tourists visit a cave at Ain Razat, a water spring in Salalah, Dhofar province, Oman August 20, 2016. Picture taken August 20, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

MUSCAT – Investment in Oman’s tourism and hospitality is projected at around $50 billion over the next two decades through to 2040, underscoring the increasingly prominent role that the sector is anticipated to play in driving the nation’s long-term economic development.

While the government’s share in this investment is set at around 12 per cent, the balance 88 per cent will come from the private sector, according to the Chief Executive Officer of Omran — the tourism investment and development arm of the government.

Peter Walichnowski said the projected investment, envisaged as part of the Tourism 2040 Strategy, is primarily aimed at achieving three main objectives: boosting tourist arrivals into the country, building up the nation’s tourism sector, and generating employment for Omanis in the industry.

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“In terms of visitations, the target is to get 11.5 million people here by 2040, including 5 million international visitors, while the others are part of the national movement of tourists within the country,” said Walichnowski.

“In terms of tourism infrastructure development, the focus is on airport construction, as in the case of the opening recently of the new Muscat Airport, the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) in terms of MICE tourism, and so on. However, in hotel infrastructure there is far more work to be done. The target is to achieve 14 million room nights by 2040, which will require 80,000 new units.

This comprises 33,000 hotel rooms, 17,000 serviced apartments and 30,000 second homes,” the CEO told delegates attending an economic forum held in the city recently.

“The Tourism Ministry says it has applications for 81 new hotels at the moment; Clearly, a lot of investors are looking at the hotel sector to invest in,” he said. Employment generation targets envisioned under the Tourism 2040 Strategy are ambitious as well. The goal is to employ 500,000 individuals in the sector by 2040, up from around 150,000 presently, he said.

“To drive growth in employment, the target is to get more Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) into the tourism sector — around 12,000 by 2040 up from around the modest 100 or so we have at present,” Walichnowski said. “So the government is relying on the private sector both in terms of capital investment, infrastructure development and services, and the employment of people in SMEs — and the private sector is going to be very important to achieving this.”

Wholly government-owned Omran, which owns and operates a substantial portfolio of hotels and resorts in the Sultanate, employs around 2,500 staff in these properties. Omanisation remains at around 38 — 40 per cent, said Walichnowski, acknowledging that getting nationals to work in hotel services as a career path is still a “challenge”.

© Oman Daily Observer 2018