The number of UAE tourist arrivals to Muscat Airport, the capital and largest city of the Sultanate of Oman, has grown 30 per cent from 23,000 in July 2008 to around 30,000 in 2010. The emergence of Oman as a preferred destination for travelers from the Emirates is attributed to the proximity of the countries, their extensive air links, and the Sultanate's natural beauty.
Oman has gained a reputation as the 'hidden gem of the Gulf' due to its unpretentious approach to tourism development. The country is renowned for its pristine beaches, mountains, wadis and deserts as well as its unique calendar of festivals which draw in thousands of regional and international visitors each year. Oman is further reinforcing its hospitality destinations through the ongoing development of projects such as the SixSensesHideawayZighyBay, the Swiss-BelhotelResortMasirahIsland, and the Salalah Marriott Resort.
"Travelers from the Emirates and throughout the world are attracted to the diversity of Oman's natural wonders, cultural heritage and event attractions. We have something for the adventurer, the sports lover, the cultural explorer or the typical tourist. Part of our appeal lies in the Sultanate's uncomplicated vision of tourism. We want to offer a place that is peaceful, safe and full of natural wonders," said Gamal Sadek, Director, Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Tourism Representative Offices for the GCC.
The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that Oman will become the third top tourism growth market in the world, and the first in the Middle East in 2010 and attain 7.8 per cent compound annual tourism growth rate through 2020. The Oman Ministry of Tourism is currently overseeing various infrastructural investments and planning various promotional campaigns to sustain the growth of the local travel and tourism industry.