Why Oman's cargo port is shifting from Muscat to Sohar
The transfer of most commercial cargo activities from Muscat port to Sohar, is critical to boosting tourism and future industrial development in Oman, according to leading international real estate consultancy Cluttons.
The Oman government’s deadline for receiving container, cargo, vehicle carriers and project materials vessels at Sultan Qaboos Port (SQP) in Muscat is set for August 31, after which they will be transferred to Sohar Industrial Port.
The last four months of next year will be then allocated for clearing goods at the Muscat port warehouses and yards before it is converted into a tourism hub.
Philip Paul, the head of Cluttons Oman, said: “We are already starting to see movement of some commercial activities down the coast to Sohar. This strategic move by the Oman Government is a positive step in making the best use of both ports, resulting in a win-win situation for Muscat and Sohar, and critical to future tourism and industrial development.”
Business Monitor International is predicting tourist arrivals to increase by 24 percent by 2018, to 1.35 million visitors annually as the government steps up its drive to promote the travel and tourism industry.
This has led to the sector contributing to RO982.8 million ($2.54 billion) to Oman’s GDP in 2013 and, according to The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), this contribution is expected to rise by 10.2 per cent to OMR 1.08 billion in 2014.
"The transfer will provide redevelopment opportunities to turn SQP into a tourism port to cater for the growing hospitality sector and increasing number of cruise liner operators that have added Muscat to their itineraries," stated Paul.
"It’s location at the mouth of the Gulf and the cultural offerings in close proximity, means it is a popular stop for the growing number of cruise passenger arrivals. At the same time it will enable the beautification of one of the most iconic and historical parts of Muscat, and by removing a large amount of freight from the city’s already congested roads, will help to ease traffic congestion," he added.
In addition to expanding tourism the Sultanate also has a strategy in place to develop its port and marine transportation sector, with Sohar’s expansion helping to bring investment into the Northern Oman region.
"Moving the majority of commercial cargo to a purpose built port will support the expansion of Sohar Port and Free Zone, encouraging further investment and improved logistic facilities in the North of the country," explaned Paul.
"We anticipate this may lead to a demand in warehouse space as occupiers look to reposition themselves around the new port. Both strategies will pave the way for future development and ensure that the economic benefits of improved transport infrastructure and tourism are realised and that Oman is recognised as a world-class destination for travel," he added.
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