The booking registers of the hospitality operators in Salalah have brightened as the weather entered into a ‘pleasant zone’ from hot and humid just a week ago. Even as the season delayed by 20 to 25 days, hotliers now agree that the season has really started off with increased enquiry for rooms. Manuel Levonian, General Manager of Crowne Plaza Resort Salalah, said that the situation has improved during the last three days and tourist footfall is improving in his property located in Dahariz.
“We have the advantage of being one of the oldest hospitality operators in Salalah. People coming to the hotel can really enjoy the impact of khareef in a better way because there has been mist like condition all through near our property or in whole of Dahariz,” he said. Levonian is pinning hope on hot air balloon carnival, which has caught the residents and tourists’ imagination. Being first of its kind facility in whole of the GCC, the event is likely to be a great hit and thus giving the hotelier in Salalah big reason to smile.
“We have good booking during those days and we are expecting the situation to improve in coming days when more exciting events would open in Salalah Tourism Festival and the khareef would also mature”, said Dennis D’Costa GM of Hamdan Plaza Hotel. He also expects the operation of new airlines on Salalah sector to give a boost the number of visitors. Regional airlines have started their seasonal services during the khareef (monsoon) season “because demand for the destination goes very high and more than a service it makes good business for them.”
Two major regional airlines —Gulf Air and Etihad Airways — have decided to have direct flights from their countries to Salalah during the season, while the airlines which have regular operations to and from Salalah have either upgraded their facilities or have added new sectors from Salalah. Oman Air, SalamAir, Qatar Airways, Air Arabia and Fly Dubai have their regular Salalah flights. “This is really good for the hospitality operators as finally those coming from these airlines would stay in some hotel or the other. SalamAir has launched three weekly flights from Abu Dhabi to Salalah on Wednesday. Apart from its regular flights the low-cost carrier has started three times a week flights to Salalah for UAE tourists,” he said.
Another hotelier suggested the Ministry of Tourism and Dhofar Municipality to promote arrival of khareef, as most of the tourists keep on moving towards mountains even after there is rain in Salalah. “When they hear that there is no rain in Salalah, they postpone their arrival until the rain comes. But the fact is that the khareef already exists at the places where they have to go. So I suggest some kind of good marketing through all sorts of media,” he said. He cited the current situation in which the khareef is late by 20-25 days in Salalah but actually it started exactly on the same day of official season (June 21) in Dalkhout and Rakhyout.
Most of mountains are also receiving rains regularly but the tourists have just different perception. The moderate rain has brought a feeling of freshness all over the city. The hotels and tour operators are waiting for the influx any moment. “We are expecting this to happen as early as possible,”
said Mohammed who has put up a food outlet in the festival ground in Itin.