Desert tourism gets a boost

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MUSCAT, DEC 22 – In a mega boost to the development of desert tourism in the Sultanate and protect the biodiversity, Al Sharqiya Sands, which extends from North and South Al Sharqiyah to Al Wusta governorates, has been designated as a tourist area. According to the Ministry of Tourism decision on Sunday, officials empowered by the minister will be responsible for the sustainable tourism development including sand sports and temporary camping sites. The officials will ensure that adventure sports vehicles meet the safety requirements stipulated by the Traffic Law in coordination with the Royal Oman Police.

“They will be responsible for allocating specific sites for camping activities, including the development of amenities like tourist information centres and toilets.” The empowered team will foster a partnership between the investors and the local community. Companies must obtain the approval of the committee if they want to build a road, set up power lines or other infrastructure. Applications for obtaining the temporary tourist licence in the tourist area must file online applications to the Ministry of Tourism.

The sites to be chosen for temporary camping must be covered by wireless service. The companies should avoid any type of activities harmful to the wildlife and environment around the camp, and adhere to the boundaries of the sites designed for them by the competent authorities. Officials will not allow excavating in the dunes, except under the prior licences of the relevant authorities. It is strictly prohibited to fly parachute in the camp. The tourist licence granted to the temporary camp is only for one month, which can be extended for a similar period. The tourist company is entitled to obtain one licence for the tourist season from September to March of each year. The camp facilities must include women’s bathrooms and swimming pools, which are isolated from men’s toilets.

It is allowed to use generators for electricity, provided that its location is away from the tents. It is allowed to present the Omani games and folk performances to introduce the Omani heritage to the camp’s residents. It is permissible to use camels and horses for riding. All waste from the camps must be managed in compliance with the requirements of the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources. The travel operators and tourism must provide details of the tourists and the itinerary of the tourist trip in advance to the Ministry of Tourism and the Royal Oman Police

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