Salem Al Mamari, Director General of Tourism Promotions at Oman's Ministry of Tourism
Oman will build momentum for its tourism and hospitality sectors in 2011 with the opening new national attractions and a record number of leisure and travel properties and services. The last few months has witnessed the opening of 1,400 new hotel rooms, the royal Opera House Muscat, and extended Muscat-Khasab routes from Oman’s National Ferry Company.
“The launch of new resorts and hotels will be welcome developments as demand can be very overwhelming during peak seasons. We also need to broaden the base of mid-range and budget hotels as this segment is attracting more patrons. There are beautiful niche properties such as the Sahab Hotel at Jabal Akhdar and the Sifawy Boutique Hotel at Jebel Sifah which opened in June 2011 which have high-quality 5-star appeal. Regional projects such as these and the Millennium Hotel at Mussanah are at the heart of our tourism strategy to spread the benefits of tourism to all of Oman,” said Salem Al Mamari, Director General of Tourism Promotions, Sultanate of Oman’s Ministry of Tourism.
The Sifawy Hotel is the first of five hotels planned for Muriya’s Jebel Sifah resort, a 45- minute drive east of Muscat. The hotel also offers a water link right to its door using Ocean Blue International’s 75’ catamaran Azzura.
The Sahab Hotel and The View are located in the Hajar Mountains, about two hours drive from Muscat. They are becoming increasingly popular for short-breaks from Muscat as well as premier destinations in their own right.
Muscat has been seeing the most accommodation growth. Adding to several boutique properties such as the Platinum and Rotana Hotels that opened late last year, 2011 began with the unveiling of the City Seasons Hotel Muscat (268 four-star rooms, three restaurants and three banquet halls) and the 153-room Golden Tulip Inn in Al Khuwair near many Ministry buildings. Several mid-range and budget hotels will open in late 2011 including the Swiss-Belhotel in Muscat’s cultural and sports district. Oman’s Royal Opera House is also due for completion in late 2011, a stunning marble structure that Salem Al Mamari says ‘will become an iconic building for Oman and a world-class venue for performing arts.’ The Royal Opera House will soon release its program of performances leading up to its official opening.
April 2011 also saw Oman’s National Ferry Company services between Muscat and Khasab become fully operational. The ferries used are the world’s fastest diesel powered craft and have a cruise speed of around 80 km per hour. The new route serves over 200 passengers and 56 cars. The company commenced passenger services between Shinas and Khasab from late May as well.
Meanwhile, construction on Oman’s Convention and Exhibition Centre under the supervision of OMRAN is on track for a late 2013 opening. The facility includes a 3,000-seat plenary, 25,000 sqm of exhibition space, and a total of 1,000 rooms over four hotels.
“The centre will give Oman the clout to bid for regional and international events as never before, and lure more tourists to Oman through pre- and post-event tours. The project is a good example of a coordinated strategy of providing infrastructure that takes advantage of Oman Air’s growing network of non-stop services to the western and eastern hemispheres,” concluded Al Mamari.