Oman tourism set for double digit growth, new data reveals

Muscat: The number of tourists arriving in Oman will increase at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13 per cent between 2018 and 2021, according to data released ahead of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2018, which will take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from April 22 to 25.

Commissioned by ATM, the Colliers International data has predicted that the rise will be fuelled by visitors from across the GCC, who accounted for 48 per cent of the guests in 2017.

In addition, arrivals from India (10 per cent), Germany (6 per cent), the UK (5 per cent), and the Philippines (3 per cent), supported by new visa processes and improved flight connections, are also expected to contribute heavily to the growth.

Historically, the Middle East has been the largest source market for Oman, with arrivals from this group increasing at an annual rate of 20 per cent between 2012 and 2017.

These trends have contributed to a spike in companies looking to enter the Oman tourism market, as demonstrated during ATM 2017, when the number of attendees interested to do business with the Sultanate increased by 13 per cent, compared with the 2016 edition of the show. The number of attendees from Oman increased by 18 per cent over the same period.

Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM, said, “The latest data demonstrates that the growth in number of visitors to Oman will continue, supported by strategic investment from the government as it turns to tourism to diversify its income streams.

“Oman is a fantastic destination with responsible, eco, cultural, and heritage attractions, with significant opportunity to capitalise on transit itineraries for stopover visitors.”

To accommodate the predicted influx, a number of major hotel chains recently announced properties in Muscat, driving the 12 per cent CAGR over the next three years, from 10,924 rooms in 2017 to 16,866 keys in 2021.

These include Muscat’s first Novotel, a 4-star, 300-room Crowne Plaza, and the 304-room JW Marriott, all located near the Oman Exhibition and Convention Centre.

In addition, Starwood is developing W Hotel, a 5-star, as part of the ongoing work at Muscat’s Royal Opera House. Also, in October 2017, Mövenpick Hotels and Resorts strengthened its Oman expansion strategy with the announcement of a third property in Muscat, the 370-key Mövenpick Hotel Muscat Airport. Properties by Kempinski and Anantara are also under development.

Leading domestic investment, Oman Hotels and Tourism has committed to building 10 hotels across the country with a projected value of US$260 million by 2021. Supply in Muscat is dominated by five-star properties, accounting for 21 per cent of the hotels, and four-star properties, accounting for 24 per cent of the hotels.

Press remarked, “With strong existing demand from GCC leisure and business travellers, Oman is preparing for even more 4- and 5-star guests over the coming years as work on the Oman Exhibition and Convention Centre and the Muscat Opera finishes. Occupancy could rise by as much as 5 per cent in 2018. So, Oman really is the one to watch.”

Complementing its hotel pipeline, Oman has made significant investments in other tourism infrastructure, including airports.

Expansion at Muscat and Salalah International Airports pushed passenger figures to 12 million and 1.2 million in 2016, an increase of 16.6 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively, and year-on-year growth to 2017 reached 18 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively.

Further developments at three strategic, regional airports are also going on. Looking ahead to ATM 2018, exhibitors from Oman include Hormuz Grand by Radisson Collection, Oman, Park Inn by Radisson Hotel and Residence, Duqm, Oman Ministry of Tourism, and Oman Air.

Press continued, “Echoing the same trends we see in tourism arrivals, the number of attendees who visit ATM in order to break into this exciting market is also rising. As this continues in 2018, we look forward to facilitating business opportunities that will drive the unprecedented level of development planned for this unique and intriguing country.”

ATM 2018 has adopted Responsible Tourism as its main theme and this will be integrated across all show verticals and activities, including focused seminar sessions featuring a dedicated exhibitor participation.

ATM, considered by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, welcomed over 39,000 people to its 2017 event, including 2,661 exhibiting companies, signing business deals worth more than $2.5 billion over the four days.

Celebrating its 25th year, ATM 2018 will build on the success of this year’s edition, with a host of seminar sessions looking back over the last 25 years and how the hospitality industry in the MENA region is expected to shape up over the next 25 years.

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