Oman tourism: Salalah Khareef season begins today in Dhofar

Hotels and travel agents have geared up for the Khareef season (monsoon), which will start on Tuesday in the Dhofar governorate and will continue until September 21, according to an official from the Ministry of Tourism (MoT).
The number of visitors to the southern governorate during the last monsoon stood at 514,000, with a daily average of more than 5,000 visitors. “But we are expecting more visitors this time,” top officials of the travel industry said on Monday.

The number of visitors from GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, including Oman, stood at 459,000, accounting for 89.2 per cent of the total tourists, according to a survey by the National Centre for Statistics and Information.

The survey was conducted in collaboration with MoT and the Royal Oman Police (ROP).

Breaking it down, 378,068 Omanis travelled to Dhofar during monsoon in 2015, while the number of visitors from GCC was 81,299, most of them (86 per cent) came by road.

The official at MoT also said the annual Khareef Salalah Festival will start by mid-July and end by September 30.

To boost the tourism industry in Dhofar, the Al Fanar Hotel was opened last February, with a capacity of 218 rooms. Moreover, the first phase of the Salalah Beach Resort has been completed, raising the number of rooms to 700.

The Anantara Resort Salalah, which is located close to the Al Baleed archaeological site, included in UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s) list of World Heritage Sites will also open soon.

The hotel will consist of 136 rooms and villas, as well as a range of restaurants and recreational facilities that will contribute to the development of hotel services for visitors coming to Salalah.

Commenting on the upcoming season and its prospects this year, Hossam Kamal, general manager, Salalah Rotana Resort, said, “The Khareef season is one of the key attractions of Oman, making the Sultanate a truly unique destination within the GCC region. Following the increased number of flights to Salalah by key airline carriers, such as Oman Air, Fly Dubai and Qatar Airways, we are certain that the trend of growing tourist arrivals year-on-year will be witnessed again this year. Last year we recorded an increase of 25 per cent in arrivals, compared with the same period in 2014. Our presence in Salalah provides added quality accommodation for the growing number of visitors to the region.’’

Ahead of the start of the season, the Salalah Rotana Resort is launching an aggressive media campaign focusing on the GCC region. In addition, the resort’s “Discover Khareef Travel Guide” on its Rotana Times website continues to draw attention as it gives potential visitors information about the season and what the destination has to offer.

The Salalah Rotana Resort also offers guests a selection of tailor made tours to explore the natural wonders of Salalah and it rich cultural heritage, with trips to Wadi Darbat, Jebel Samhan Nature Reserve, the Mughsail Beach, the Al Marneef Cave and more.

To lure tourists, an official from the Salalah Marriott Resort said, “We are offering 50 per cent off on food and beverage, our guests can stay three nights in our hotel by only paying for two nights and we are also providing three buses to ply visitors to the festival area and to all shopping malls in Salalah.”

Travel agents said Khareef is considered a significant aspect of tourism in Oman as it receives misty rains and has a cooler temperature. “With more Oman Air, flydubai and Qatar Airways flights, we hope that the tourist traffic will grow this year,” an official from New Star Travels said.