Oman believes UK and other tourists can offset reliance on oil

OMAN, already popular with UK visitors, has recognised tourism has the potential of taking over the burden of powering the Sultanate’s economy and replacing its dependence on income from oil.

Oman is the second country in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that welcomes an increasing number of tourists every year. Around 140,000 UK tourists visit each year (second only to India) and far ahead of any other European nation, attracted by classic landscapes such as Wadi Shab, pictured above.

Out of the 9.3 million passengers arriving in the country in 2015, about 36 per cent were tourists. Young entrepreneurs need to understand the magnitude of the task and benefits of running a successful tourism business.

In this respect, there is a need to educate the would-be entrepreneurs that Oman can no longer guarantee jobs for its local people the way it used to in the past. They need to know tourism could well be Oman’s economic Plan B that would effectively counterbalance the financial problems stemming from lower oil prices.

Oman is popular with British tourists as it has one of the most diverse environments in the Middle East with a wide variety of tourist attractions including beaches, watersports, wildlife, desert safaris, caving, climbing, horse and camel racing, museums, World Heritage Sites and cultural tourism. Muscat was named the Second Best City to visit in the world in 2012 by the travel guide publisher Lonely Planet and was also chosen as the Capital of Arab Tourism of 2012.

A water park in SpainIn another move, but related to increasing Oman’s attractions to tourists, the Sultanate's first 'world class' family water park will be built in Muscat, Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran), said in a statement.

According to Omran, the project has been developed by six graduates of the NCP - an initiative by the Public Private Partnership taskforce (Sharaka), under the patronage of the Diwan of Royal Court.

The team worked on the concept for a year - spending over 5,000 hours on the development of a detailed business plan that included extensive financial modelling and stakeholder research. The findings supported the team’s outcome that the project can generate significant private investment and, on completion, will generate extremely profitable returns for shareholders.