Oman to welcome 1.6m cruise tourists by 2020

MUSCAT: The travel market in Oman is poised for an unprecedented growth over the next 15 years, according to a recent study commissioned by Amadeus, a leading technology provider for the travel industry. The report titled ‘Shaping the Future of Travel in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Big Travel Effects’ suggests that diversification of the economy and a youth-driven population may very well be among the key drivers of growth in Oman’s travel sector. The report states that the increasing focus of GCC countries on enhancing their destination offerings is positioning the tourism sector as a key contributor to regional economies.

More specifically, massive investments on infrastructural development and destination attractions are driving the region’s specialty tourism sectors such as sports, medical and cruise tourism on a global level. To this end, Oman Tourism has joined hands with Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and Dubai’s Department of Tourism to peg the Arabian Peninsula as an emerging cruise destination for the world.

As a case in point, Sultan Qaboos Port is already being developed into a dedicated cruise port as part of the government’s 2020 vision. With the number of cruise tourists increasing year-on-year, the Sultanate is expecting 1.6 million cruise tourists by the year 2020 and 2.1 million by 2030.

244146Antoine Medawar, Vice-President, MENA, Amadeus, said: “Oman’s beaches are already luring tourists from across the globe, and the nation continues to invest heavily on expanding its ports and developing infrastructure. Medical tourism facilities and services are also being fast-tracked and stepped-up.

Such developments will definitely result in the expansion of the tourism market that is set for a period of sustained growth in the coming decade.”

Another remarkable finding from the study is the impact of Oman’s youth-driven demographics on the travel industry.

Today, nearly 26 per cent of Oman’s population is under 15 years of age. And, as this population becomes tomorrow’s decision makers, traditional travel behaviour is set to witness a transformation and become increasingly personalised.

This tech-savvy generation that instinctively turns to mobile technologies and social media to plan, book and manage travel is expected to reshape the travel industry.

The report also states that additional unfolding demographic factors such as a steady inflow of expatriate workers, robust natural population growth and a growing middle class will combine to drive a new and divergent set of travel behaviours and needs in the region. Among the other factors that drive the growth, the unified visa system that has been implemented for tourists between Oman, the UAE and Qatar, is worth a special mention.

Graham Nichols, Managing Director — Amadeus Gulf, said: “Oman, along with the UAE and Qatar, are leading the race in boosting the hospitality sector ahead of the mega sporting events. A combination of factors, supported by governmental initiatives to ease intra- and extra-regional movement, will have a positive impact on Oman’s travel sector, making it a more attractive proposition for the quintessential leisure and business traveller.”

Speaking about Amadeus’ position in the travel industry and the research-oriented activities it continually undertakes, Medawar said: “Travel providers that address the nuanced needs of the region’s population are likely to thrive in the coming decades. At Amadeus, our people, our technology and our innovations are dedicated to helping our customers and partners shape the future of travel in this region.

SOURCE: OMAN DAILY OBSERVER

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