Oman recently organised the Oman – India Roadshow 2015 across four Indian cities – Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai with an objective to promote Oman as a Bollywood and wedding destination apart from a leisure destination, introduce it to new stakeholders in the market and enhance the existing relations between Omani and Indian companies. Presently, India is among the top five source markets for Oman and its ministry of tourism is hopeful of India becoming the number one source market for the destination in the near future. Speaking on this, Salim Al Mamari, director general of tourism promotion, Ministry of Tourism, Sultanate of Oman stated, “The number of film shootings and weddings have been increasing year-on-year and hence we are focusing on attracting these segments from India. We want to provide several facilities to encourage Bollywood film shootings in our destination. For instance, presently you need to bring shooting equipments from India or source them from Dubai, but we are trying to encourage Omani private companies to specialise and supply these equipments.”
In 2014, Oman welcomed more than 2,50,000 tourists from India, recording a four per cent increase from the previous year. The ministry of tourism is hopeful of maintaining the same growth percentage this year with a major focus on attracting high-end tourists and promote responsible tourism. The government is also enhancing and encouraging the development of its tourism and hospitality infrastructure. For instance, Oman which presently has a room inventory of 15,700 will witness an addition of more than 5000 rooms by 2020. Moreover, some of its forts and castles would also be converted into museums and hotels. “Oman is rich in history and it has more than 500 forts and castles. The government would be converting some of them into museums and hotels to give new experiences to travellers. To initiate this process we would be forming a Government Buddy, a government-owned company, to select the forts and castles to be converted into museums and hotels. This company would come into existence by the end of 2015,” opined Mamari.
Developments are also underway to enhance tourism infrastructure in Oman. “We are developing an international airport in Muscat which is expected to be operational by the end of 2016. While another international airport has come up in Salalah, which had a soft launch in May this year and will officially open by the end of June. Furthermore, two domestic airports are coming up in Ras al Hadd and AlWasta, to be functional within the next two years. The domestic airport at Sohar is already functional,” revealed Mamari. Meanwhile, the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre is also being developed which will open by the beginning of 2016. Its largest hall boasts of a capacity to accommodate more than 3600 pax. “Our connectivity is also strong with 102 Oman Air flights per week connecting between Oman and India. Adding to this are flights of other airline companies, which creates a very good flow between both the countries,” concluded Mamari.