Muscat: The just-ended winter tourism season in Dhofar was a huge success, with more than 44,000 visitors arriving by direct flights from Europe and the occupancy rates of many five and four star hotels shooting up, according to the governorate’s Director-General of Tourism, Marhoon bin Saeed Al Ameri.
The season — October 2017 to the end of April 2018 — saw the occupancy rate of the Rotana Resort and the Salalah Beach Resort at 93 per cent, the Crowne Plaza Salalah at 80 per cent, the Marriott at 71 per cent and Al Baleed Salalah Anantara at 57 per cent. In the four-star category, the occupancy level reached 91 per cent in the Juweira Hotel, 54 per cent at the Hilton Salalah, and 66 per cent at the Salalah Gardens.
Al Ameri said the Tourism Ministry was always keen to make winter tourism a success and had been working on it for a long time by holding exhibitions and participating in events in various countries, particularly in Europe.
He said data from the hotels showed that the largest proportion of tourists visiting Dhofar during winter was from Europe.
Al Ameri said more than 25,000 tourists came via cruise ships, which docked at the Salalah Port.
He said the winter season of Dhofar governorate was unique because it had a large number of tourist groups coming from Europe. The number of European tourists who arrived between October 2017 and May 2018 was 44,420. These groups had a huge positive impact on winter tourism in the governorate, enriching hotel establishments and other economic activity in the area.
Al Amri said that the tourists visited many places, including the archaeological sites of Al Baleed, the Land of Frankincense Museum, Samhram and traditional markets. They also went to some natural sites such as places where frankincense trees grow, the desert known as the Empty Quarter, or “Rub Al Khali” in Arabic, and coral reefs.
He pointed out that hotels also had activities and varied entertainment programmes for the tourists.
Amer Al Habsi, director of sales at Al Bleed Anantara, said winter tourism in Dhofar province was one of the best opportunities for the development of domestic investment to offer more services to attract visitors. The occupancy rate in all hotels was high, ranging between 80 per cent and 100 per cent, depending on the categories and the prices, he added.
The wonderful climate of the Dhofar governorate during this season made it a special place for most Europeans who were interested in nature and wanted to enjoy the warm weather, he added.
Mohammed Al Mashani, Director of Government Relations at Salalah Beach Company, said: Winter tourism of the governorate is very popular. Services can be further improved. The majority of tourists who come to the governorate are from Italy, Germany and Poland, who push the occupancy rate to 93 per cent. There are also large numbers of tourists from Switzerland, France and Slovakia. He said beach, mountain and desert tours and evening parties and shopping events in popular markets were organised regularly. Besides, there was Dhofar geographical diversity with its beaches, mountains and deserts.