Flights to Salalah are not only safe but also save nearly 10 hours of travel time. Despite these obvious advantages, nearly 68 per cent of travellers, especially domestic and regional tourists, prefer to travel by road. It may be noted that the Muscat-Salalah road, mainly the Adam-Haima stretch, has been notorious for its some major road accidents over the past few years, including fatalities involving children. Around 68 per cent of 88,231 visitors to Salalah (as of July 16, 2019) arrived by road, according to official statistics.
Airfares are to be partially blamed for this preference for the road over the air. One-way airfares to Salalah from Muscat are in the range of RO 25 and RO 122 depending on the dates and flight timings. “A few years ago when the new budget airline started operations to Salalah from Muscat, they offered one-way fares starting from around RO 15 or even less. But that has changed and today fares always start from RO 30 and above even during off-peak seasons,” said Mustafa al Balushi, a technician in the hospitality sector.
He added, “I have a family of five including parents and you can imagine the amount I have to pay for flights. I agree that road travel can be risky and tiresome but they imagine the amount of money you safe.”
Satish Paranjpe has a similar take. “Buses have improved with new fleet and facilities such as wi-fi. At the same, long drives are more prone to risks due to fatigue factor and night travel. For flights to be popular, airfares have to be competitive.”
According to travel operators, flights to Salalah continue to have good load factors despite high fares. “Arab nationals travel with large families in large vehicles and going by statistics most of the visitors to Salalah are either Omanis or other GCC nationals. It is quite natural for them to prefer road trips. It also helps them while commuting within Salalah,” said Thomas, a travel executive.
From 88,231 visitors to Salalah, as of July 16, 44,812 Omanis were Omanis followed by 8,000 Saudis, 5,377 Emiratis, 8,084 Arab nationals, 1,497 Qataris, 1,039 Bahrainis, 1,168 Kuwaitis, 1,287 Europeans and 10,275 Asians.
According to National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), the number of visitors by the end of the second week of Salalah tourism season (June 21 to July 4) reached 27,138, of which 13,902 visitors have entered the Governorate of Dhofar through the land port, while 13,236 tourists have arrived via the airport.
The arrivals to the governorate of Dhofar via international flights increased from 1,760 visitors during the first week of the season to 3,372 visitors during the second week. The NCSI statistics also show that the GCC nationals, including Omanis, accounted for 60.3 per cent of the total number of the visitors of Salalah tourism season until the second week of the season.
Fazah Fort: Situated in the town of Liwa, Wilayat Liwa, Al Batinah Region, Fazah Fort dates back to many centuries and played