This 3.000km long country offers a great variety of landscapes. As Muscat remains the country’s main gateway, the brand new Muscat airport, inaugurated on 20 March this year, will see its capacity increase from 6 million passengers to over 20 million.
For many people, Oman is sure “the best-kept secret of the East”. Oman does not want to copy its neighbors and to keep its authenticity does not seek mass tourism but rather quality tourism. Tourism in Oman must remain a source of employment for the Omani people themselves.
Perhaps the most difficult thing was to get the Omanis to admit that it was possible to “work” in the field of tourism because the sense of hospitality towards foreigners was so much a part of the Omani population that the idea of earning money by welcoming tourists seemed inconceivable to them.
It was a slow development that provided many jobs for young Omanis and unlike the neighboring emirates, the number of expatriates – mostly from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan – represents no more than a third of the total population.
The objective of the strategic plan 2040 is to eventually receive 11 million passengers including 5 million foreign tourists spending more than three nights in Oman. Currently, tourism represents about 1.5 million visitors.
France with its 50,000 tourists (+21% in 2017) is in the third position among European countries after the United Kingdom and Germany. The objective is to increase French customers by 10% by 2018 and 2019.
The United Kingdom, which has unique historical links with Oman, has three direct daily flights with Muscat (two Oman Air flights and one British Airways flight). France is served by a single daily direct flight from Oman Air and another KLM flight (no direct AF flight).
During the hot summer months, from June to August, the Salalah region benefits from a monsoon tail which ensures a milder temperature for a few months and a spectacular green side for a country with a rather desert climate.
Ahmed Al Mahrezi recalled that Oman welcomed with interest the major international hotel groups that have already participated for several years in the creation of luxury establishments and that continue to develop this sector significant for the attractiveness of Oman.
The emirate, which currently has 20,000, will have 25,000 rooms by 2020, more than 50% of which will be rated from 3 to 5 stars.
For those who like more “nature” or more “budget” tourism, Oman is a country of great freedom where camping is allowed everywhere under two of the most straightforward conditions in the world, not to disturb the local populations and leave the place as clean as when arriving.
However, remember the basic safety rules in these desert regions with water and fuel reserves and avoid venturing with only one vehicle off-road.
An E-visa system is now in place and avoids long queues on arrival at the airport. The price: 5 rials (about 11€) for a visa of 10 days and 20 rials for one month.
The maximum duration of the tourist visa is three months. Please note that visitors with a tourist visa from Dubai entering the Musandam region, which borders Dubai, do not need an Omani visa.
Oman has huge almost deserted beaches; it is a destination that offers countless centers of interest, with its citadels and forts, its historical sites, its culture, and traditions. It’s wadi with their ancestral irrigation canals aflaj, its mountain villages, its preserved fauna as its turtle nesting sites, its many sports activities, trekking, climbing, mountain biking, etc.
After noting that Oman is ranked among the ten safest countries in the world and that there has never been a terrorist threat in the country, the minister also pointed out that in Oman the place of women is particularly important.
Some women are ministers, others are senior civil servants, and for a long time, they have had the right to drive and to pursue higher education.
The Islam practiced in Oman is Ibadite Islam, a little known current but which mainly advocates tolerance, pacifism and indulgence.
New markets are opening up for Oman, China and India, but Europe remains a priority market with customers looking for authenticity and quality of welcome and service.