Integrated tourism plans for South Al Sharqiyah, Al Dakhiliyah

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The Ministry of Tourism has discussed detailed tourism development plans in the governorates of South Al Sharqiyah and Al Dakhiliyah. The ministry also reviewed various stages of tourism development plans of the governorates of the Sultanate. For the purpose, it commissions international organisations which have specialisation in preparing integrated tourism plans according to a vision emanating from Oman Tourism Strategy 2040 for all governorates of the country. This is to contribute to creating tourism facilities and services of different types. It is also working to involve local communities in providing the services, in addition to creating opportunities for tourism initiatives from small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
A meeting was held under the auspices of Ahmed bin Nasser al Mehrzi, Minister of Tourism to discuss tourism development plans for both South Al Sharqiyah and Al Dakhiliyah governorates. The meeting was attended by officials of the ministry and companies concerned with the preparation of integrated tourism plans. Shaikh Hilal bin Ghalib al Hinai, who is Adviser to the Ministry of Tourism in-charge of the Directorate General of Planning and Follow-up and head of the team of tourist plans, said that for tourist clusters it is important to find integrated tourist destinations which have the infrastructure facilities, and projects should be capable of meeting the needs of various segments of society, tourists and visitors.
He added that Oman’s strategy of tourism was centred on two main elements: the principle of tourist clusters and tourist experiences. He said that the tourist clusters were areas which have attractive tourism characteristics and features and a full range of facilities, services, infrastructure, recreational facilities, and can give experiences which suit different tastes of tourists as well as provide suitable products for all groups of society.
He said that integration of tourist clusters has created confidence in investors about this type of projects, and encourage them to invest in them. It has economic and logistic advantages and competitive in terms of costs of infrastructure and its operations.
Shaikh Hilal al Hinai said that tourism experiences were a set of unique and exciting activities in tourist complexes which make tourists spend a longer time in these destinations.
He said that general tourism development plans in the governorates were aimed at dealing with the available tourism components in a sustainable manner and to preserve the environmental heritage and culture of the local communities. These aspects make it important to develop a plan or vision for tourism development in the governorates.
He said that the Omani Tourism Strategy proposed 14 tourist clusters in the Sultanate at various stages of time. The ministry was currently focusing on general tourism development for it. It is also readying integrated investment packages for the investors to start projects without any work and approvals from other organisations. These projects include land, type which has to be implemented and recreational activities accompanying the project to be presented to the investors in an integrated manner.
He said that the plans would determine the opportunities for entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises associated with tourism and supplementary activities for tourism in any tourist clusters. It will also determine the number of jobs opportunities to be available in the sector.
The tourism development plans for the governorates of the Sultanate will be integrated and coordinated with each other to give tourists a different and distinct experience, through the integration of products and elements of various governorates, he said. He also clarified that the companies which were preparing plans in this regard have been directed to come out with integrated plans to add value to it.
Al Hinai said that the tourism development plans in the second stages were focused on the development of what is known as Master Plan for the development of tourism in the governorates. It is aimed at making perceptions of tourism projects, facilities and services and other requirements of tourism in each governorate separately. He also said that investment in the tourism sector would be according to plans aimed at addressing all requirements of the Sultanate.
He said that during tourism planning for the governorates, it is important to make them integrate with the natural and heritage elements of each of them and use them appropriately.
TOURISM ACTIVITIES
In their presentations, companies discussed schemes which integrate all services required by the tourists to suit the nature of each governorate, taking advantage of their attractions and proposing facilities and activities which are appropriate there.
They also gave proposals for some schemes which will be put forward for investment. After their completion they will have licences from competent authorities, and would be ready for investors.
The tourism companies have underlined the fact that the governorates were rich in tourism elements, diverse in marine, desert and mountain environments, and have rich cultural diversity for which each of them is known. They have pointed out that all these attractions were not available in many other countries and must be invested effectively. They also talked about the attractiveness of tourist activities and tourists’ search for everything which is related to nature.

TOURIST EXPERIENCES
The companies also presented their visions to link the tourist plans of the governorates of the Sultanate with each other to provide different experiences that attract tourists.
Under the plans, the tourists would have multiple options to spend as many tourist nights in each governorate under various tour packages. They would also encourage visitors to stay as long as possible in each governorate and go back with a good tourist experience.
They also presented examples of integrated tourist schemes which would harness the tourist products rich in the governorate and use them in a manner which suits each of them.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENTREPRENEURS
These plans also addressed the opportunities for entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises to carry out supplementary projects for main investment projects and provide various tourism services to enrich local communities and involve them in tourism development.
The integrated tourism schemes employ all heritage, environmental and traditional heritage components in the governorates in a way which will contribute to the added value of the available products.

TOURISM ATTRACTIONS
The integrated tourism plans took into account the feasibility of investment in the attractiveness of the elements. These plans would stimulate investment and provide alternatives for returns of their investments in proportion to the nature of investment in the long-term, like that in the real estate development. This is to create a balance in investment for the public interest. This would add value to the plans in all tourism seasons and help in creating social and economic activity to stimulate tourism for the whole year.
The plans presented by the companies included the designs of some projects which are compatible with the environment of the governorates and their natural components.
These companies also showed their expectations for the required investments from the public and private sectors for the establishment of integrated tourist projects in each governorate according to the studies carried out by them. They also looked into various other aspects of the infrastructure and services in terms of their attraction of investment as per the experience in many other countries.
The companies also discussed the challenges they face in preparing plans, data flow and procedures of the competent authorities related to the tourism sector. This is to prepare plans to meet the goals which the government aspires to achieve in cooperation with the working teams formed by the tourism departments in the governorates.

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