With only four days left for the launch of the annual Salalah Toursim Festival (STF), its venue, the Itin Festival Ground, is all set to receive visitors with a new look and new attractions. The venue has got a facelift under the supervision of a dedicated committee, which works under the Chairman of the Dhofar Municipality. All the routes leading to the festival ground have been decked up with proper signage and new look fort-type decorative sideways done exclusively for the STF.
The municipality’s efforts to do something new is visible this year with the setting up of tents at several places in Itin area, which attracts maximum crowd during the season due to its proximity to the STF venue as also to the nearby mountains and some water springs. The STF will have many added attractions along with shows and exhibitions, showcasing the heritage and culture of Oman with special focus on the life and times of Dhofar. There will also be international troupes performing during the festival.
At a meeting, Shaikh Salim bin Aufit al Shanfari, Chairman of Dhofar Municipality, asked all the wings of the municipality to be proactive during the season and the festival to ensure that all the civic facilities and services are working smoothly because there has been sudden flow of tourists from road and air links. “We need to be proactive to meet this flow and their service demand,” he said. An official associated with the festival ground and in-charge of programmes in STF said there have been many programmes lined up both for the visitors and local residents. “As it has been before, this year too the festival would be an inclusive and representative event for all sections. The STF would be an aesthetically perfect entertainment for all age groups and communities.”
The festival, not be limited to entertainment alone, would also turn out to be a platform of promotion for companies, government programmes and policies, and all sorts of awareness campaigns by both private and public agencies. Two big parks in Itin have capacity to accommodate a large number of visitors. One is located just behind Al Magbi restaurants, which are famous for meat preparations cooked on hot pebbles. The area is big crowd puller in all the seasons due to authentic taste of camel and goat meat.
On the other side of the road is another park, which is also fitted with exercise equipment, seating area and a long stretch that gives children freedom to cycle, play or even play with toy footballs. This park connects directly to the STF ground and has emerged as a major meeting place for families and outstation visitors. Inside the festival enclosure, there would be three main sections — the shopping fair, book fair and Omani products exhibition, apart from regular features like music, dance and games for children.