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Oman welcomes increase in visitor numbers as new airport opens

Oman welcomes increase in visitor numbers as new airport opens

Visitor numbers to the Middle Eastern tourism hotspot of Oman grew by almost five per cent in 2017, according to recent figures published by the ministry of tourism.

With a total of 3.3 million visiting last year, the sultanate enjoyed a strong 4.7 per cent year-on-year growth in the number of international travellers.

The numbers further illustrating the success of Oman’s economic diversification strategy.

Boosted by Oman’s dedication to boosting non-oil exports as part of Vision 2040 and the National Programme for Enhancing Economic Diversification, Tanfeedh, tourism has continued to perform as a major engine for job creation, economic development, and sustainable growth.

Registering a successive record number of travellers since 2015, the new figures signal the continued progress of the government’s National 2040 Tourism Strategy, which aims to boost the sector’s contribution to GDP by six per cent per cent.

Oman’s 20-year strategy has already begun bearing fruit and is well on track to raise visitor numbers to five million per annum by 2040.

The strategy hinges on developing dedicated tourism clusters in destinations such as Muscat, Musandam, Al Hajjar Mountains, Frankincense trail in Salalah, and multiple desert areas popular with adventure tourists.

In addition, the ministry aims to employ as many as 500,000 people in the tourism sector, with expected investments totalling OMR19 billion, of which only 12 per cent will be from the public sector.

Tourism has been offered an added boost following the debut of the eagerly anticipated Muscat International Airport.

The new facility commenced operations in March and had been recognised as Middle East’s Leading New Tourism Development Project by the World Travel Awards.

The new airport opening has been eagerly anticipated and, as a key stakeholder, Oman Air is proud to be operating up to 200 flights per day from the new state-of-the-art terminal.

Muscat International Airport has been designed to be a shining symbol of the modern state of Oman being built by sultan Qaboos bin Said.

The hub will be a significant boost to Oman’s already flourishing travel sector as it will have the capacity to handle 12 million passengers per year and its runway will be able accommodate the world’s largest aircraft, the Airbus A380, and independent parallel operation.

The new terminal will allow Oman Air to offer a thoroughly enhanced service; the check-in process will be seamless for all customers and premium class customers will be able to avail themselves of designated check in areas and entrances.

Acting Oman Air chief executive, Abdulaziz Al-Raisi, said: “The opening of the new Muscat International Airport has long been anticipated and is a momentous occasion in the sultanate’s history.

“Here at Oman Air we are confident this new development will allow us to offer our valued guests a new level of service that is sure to exceed their high expectations.

“As a major stakeholder, our strategy is to support the anticipated growth in tourism and logistics and we are stepping up investment. 

“In 2018 we have already announced the arrival of new aircraft, routes to North Africa Russia and Europe, and an expansion of existing services.”

Oman Air has been very closely involved in this exciting and important new project for the sultanate.

The opening of the new terminal will further facilitate the airline’s exciting fleet and network expansion programme, which will see Oman Air operate up to 62 aircraft to around 60 destinations by 2022.

Oman Air has already used the new facility to launch new flights to Istanbul, Casablanca, and the Maldives, while there are also ambitions to return to Khartoum.