The government as per the national tourism strategy is going all-out to attract international tourists to the country, including from the new source markets. While Oman continues to position itself as a high-end tourism market, the emphasis is to tap a sizeable share of the middle-class travellers from the regional neighbours Asia and Russia.
The question being asked by the agents entrusted to promote Oman new markets is the customisation of the product.
China has over 150 million high-spending international tourists, of which 19,470 came to Oman in 2017, 44,580 in 2018 and 64,000 in the first six months of 2019.
But does Oman have enough authentic restaurants to cater to Chinese tourists?
“We have the so-called Chinese restaurants spread across the length and breadth of the capital, but a proper audit would reveal that there are only a handful of them, that too in the expensive range,” said the general manager of a popular hotel chain.
He added, “The existing Chinese restaurants do lot of homework to make their cuisines as authentic, but they are also forced to customise as per the demography. The Ministry of Tourism should make sincere efforts to send representatives from the restaurant industry to markets like China on a familiarisation trip.” Marcus Lee Thong Yee of Welcome China recently told the Observer that 90 per cent of Chinese do not speak English.
“The travel industry in Oman should cater to these tourists by offering authentic Chinese restaurants and trained tour guides and translators.”
It may be also noted that the Chinese, US and Russians are among the leading spenders in global travel. Oman is targeting tourists from Russia who are also not known to be comfortable speaking the English language.
There was an increase of 162 per cent in tourists coming from Russia in 2018; or 10,877 people, compared to 4,156 in 2017. In the first five months in 2019, 9,651 Russian tourists came to Muscat.
“This is a golden opportunity for young Omanis to something different. They can venture into entrepreneurship offering services like translation and customised guided tours among others,” said Mohammed al Saleh, a PRO with a leading hotel chain.
“I am working with friends on a project that will help Oman Tourism and the travel industry to provide tailor-made services to the new generation of inbound travellers from new markets,” he said.
The Sultanate also recorded a 12.37-per cent (357,147) growth in Indian tourist arrivals with
travellers visiting the country in 2018 compared to 317,844 in 2017.
Ensuring facilities such as free and fast Wi-Fi and TV channels in the tourists’ native languages is also important, Lee said.
Fazah Fort: Situated in the town of Liwa, Wilayat Liwa, Al Batinah Region, Fazah Fort dates back to many centuries and played