Oman expo to boost tourism, investment

Muscat: More than 100 participants are expected to sign up for a new tourism expo in Oman, which aims to further drive tourism and boost investment in the Sultanate.

The Essence of Oman expo will target five high-potential areas of Oman’s tourism sector, which has been earmarked as one of the key points of development in the nation’s Tanfeedh plans for economic diversification.

“Oman has a lot of options for tourists, and this is why we are primarily going to target five areas of leisure: adventure, culture and history, and spa and wellness are three of the most important aspects of Oman, and you also have conventional tourists who also come here to relax, in addition to those who come here for marine activities such as deep-sea diving and snorkelling,” said Eva Mulyana, general manager for Thuriya, the organisers behind the expo.

Set to be held at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre from March 12 to 14, Essence of Oman is run in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Riyada, Oman’s SME development arm.

“We began preparation for this about a year ago, because we realised that Oman has immense potential when it comes to developing tourism,” she added.

“There are still some areas that are unfortunately underdeveloped, and if tourists don’t have access to proper facilities – which may be something as simple as toilets by the beach – they will not see Oman as a long-term, viable tourist destination and will then go elsewhere, and this will hurt the economy.

“Oman has all the ingredients to become a world-class tourist destination and so we are trying to make that happen,” said Mulyana. “Our first priority is to open this up to local investors and then we will look to invite foreign investors the next time onward.”

“We have invited local representatives from many sectors, including adventure and outdoor sports, food and beverage, transportation and spa companies among many others, so investors will be able to see the variety of services available on offer.”

Mulyana hopes that Essence of Oman will one day be able to grow until it is able to rival the Arabian Travel Market, the GCC’s biggest travel expo, which takes place every April in Dubai.

“When we invited many of the companies, they said they would be attending the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, and we realised that so many companies from Oman are going there when they should really be attracting customers by promoting themselves here,” she revealed. “When companies from here go to Dubai, they have to pay a lot more for designs, travel costs, hotel expenses and the exhibition stalls so there are a lot more advantages here.

“Oman is a country that has so much to offer as compared to the rest of the GCC nations, because it has so much heritage and culture that the other nations maybe don’t have, and the people here are so friendly,” explained Mulyana. “In Oman, you can see everything from the deserts to the mountains to the seas and the wadis and there are so many things that people who have lived here for so long have not seen as well, so where else will you get this?”

Oman’s long-standing reputation as a peaceful and non-controversial nation would also help attract investment in future, she added. “Every tourist and investor wants to come to a country that is stable and peaceful because that means there is a better chance for businesses to be successful, and that is especially important in the case of tourism,” said Mulyana. “Oman has long been a nation that is peaceful this will definitely work in its favour.

“We have known for a while now that Oman is looking to move away from its traditional oil and gas-based sources of revenue, and since it has so much potential for tourism, I believe investment in Oman’s tourism sector will help in the future, because it will ultimately benefit the economy,” she added.