IATA data for 2011 has confirmed a record year for international passenger arrivals to Muscat International Airport. Muscat recorded 2.4 million arrivals, a rise of 14 per cent. The 2011 data also showed a 13 per cent rise in passenger arrivals to Salalah (Oman’s second largest city in Dhofar). Road and cruise ship activity also increased.
Her Excellency Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary of Oman’s Ministry of Tourism said, “2011 was a challenging year for our tourism industry, but the IATA data confirms solid growth from our key tourism markets. This shows that our aligned tourism and aviation strategies are working, while our wider international airline partners are also growing their underlying business.”
IATA data shows growth in 2011 from the United Kingdom (7 per cent), Germany (6 per cent), Netherlands (15 per cent), Belgium (33 per cent), Italy (77 per cent), Switzerland (28 per cent), Russia (50 per cent) while arrivals from France remained the same. The large GCC inbound market (618,877 passenger movements) jumped 27 per cent. In addition, the data confirms a large rise in Oman Air’s transit passenger movements. Oman Air has non-stop services to Muscat from a variety of destinations, positioning Muscat as a gateway for business and leisure travel to the Gulf, as well as a stopover destination on Oman Air’s network. Zurich is the latest new service launched by Oman Air.
“We are working more strategically on how to grow our key market segments. Our key message is that Oman is a unique and authentic Arabic destination with ingredients that make it a ‘must see’ destination. Both The National Geographic and Lonely Planet recognized this and are recommending Oman as a destination of choice in 2012. We expect our stopover campaign will be very attractive to new and experienced travelers who have not had the opportunity to visit Oman,” continued Her Excellency.
Oman’s initiatives in 2011 and early 2012 have included:
· Launch of global awareness campaign on BBC Worldwide television and web sites
· Industry-backed stopover campaign with Oman Air (1 Free Night in Oman*)
· Launch of ‘Muscat Arab Tourism Capital 2012’ campaign
· Major reduction in tourism visa fees to attract short break and stopover arrivals
· On-going investment in iconic activities that showcase Oman’s unique cultural heritage and environment like the Royal Opera House Muscat and events like the Tour of Oman.
Oman is also increasing its profile in business tourism with construction of the 3,000 seat Muscat Convention and Exhibition Centre on track for opening in 2015