Tourism numbers increase 15% as Oman rolls out $billion investment plan
Total investment in travel and tourism set to hit $1.17 billion by 2026; Visitor numbers increase 15% through October 2016; Hotel occupancy rates forecasted to rise by 3% this year; Sultanate to go on charm offensive at Arabian Travel Market 2017
ZAINAB JUNAID ELESHO
The Sultanate returns to Arabian Travel Market (ATM) at Dubai World Trade Centre this year (April 24-27) to showcase its expanding hotel and tourism infrastructure pipeline following a successful 2016 with visitor numbers in the first ten months of the year growing to reach 2.5 million, representing a year-on-year increase of 15%.
Speaking on this development, Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM, noted that “It is no wonder that Oman is so popular and was recently named as one of the top ten places to visit in 2017 by a selection of the world’s top media. The country boasts a fantastic mix of culture, history and adventure for travelers, while the $120 million Majarat Oman futuristic theme park, set to open in 2017, will add to the huge selection of options available for families.”
“A report from Colliers International said: “Although the country faces significant competition with other popular regional destinations, Oman has been able to distinguish itself as a unique tourism destination, being home to many eco, cultural and heritage attractions.”
The Colliers report also revealed that with the recent opening of the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre, which is expected to host around 28 exhibition events in 2017, the market is projected to see a slight recovery, with the hotel occupancy forecasted to close at 58%.”
Simon Press affirmed further that area of growth for Oman is through passengers arriving at the country’s airports, with a 17% increase in total airport arrivals through to the end of December 2017, while the new terminal at Muscat International Airport, which is expected to open this year, will have a capacity of 12 million passengers per annum.
“Salalah International Airport (SAIA) has a current capacity of one million travelers annually with the ability to increase this further by up to six million. And six other airports are either in planning or construction phase, including the new airport at Ras Al Hadd.
“Oman’s tourism industry continues to grow and its offering keeps expanding to cater for the diverse needs of today’s travelers. Experiential tourism is the spotlight theme of ATM 2017 and this is central to the whole tourism experience in Oman,” Press added
Among the Oman-based exhibitors already committed to participating at this year’s ATM include: Sex Senses Zighy Bay Resort & Spa, Al Bustan Palace Ritz Carlton, Anantara Jabal Akhdar Resort, Kempinski Hotel Muscat, Shangri_la Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa and Intercontinental Muscat.
Press maintained that, “ATM which is considered by many industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, witnessed a year-on-year visitor attendance increase of 9% to over 28,500 in 2016, with 2,785 exhibiting companies, signing business deals worth more than US$ 2.5 billion over four days.
ATM 2017 will build on its success with the announcement of an additional hall as Reed Travel Exhibitions looks to add to its record-breaking achievements of 2016.”
Friday, 17 February 2017
-New leisure facilities forecast to fuel domestic tourism at over 7.5% per year until 2020
-61,224 hotel rooms currently in the pipeline to meet projected demand from domestic and religious tourism
-Arabian Travel Market to showcase the best of the Kingdom’s tourist attractions
Zainab Junaid Elesho
Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector is expected to contribute more than $81 billion to the country’s GDP by 2026. This was contained in a data from the World Travel and Tourism Council,just as exhibitors are preparing for what the Kingdom has to offer at this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM).
ATM will be held at the Dubai World Trade Centre from April 23-27 2017.
This is being driven, in part, by domestic tourism - the number of local tourist trips inside Saudi Arabia, exceeded 47.5 million last year (2016) - a 2.3% rise compared to 2015.
Under the Saudi Government’s Vision 2030, plans are afoot to increase household spending on cultural and entertainment activities inside the country, from 2.9% to 6%.
Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM 2017, stated that “Plans are already well underway to achieve this target. The government has appointed the board of the General Entertainment Authority, and Six Flags has revealed exciting plans to expand into the country, with the first entertainment park scheduled to open as soon as 2020-21.
“Vision 2030 also seeks to double the number of UNESCO heritage sites to encourage more domestic tourism, while both Holy Mosques have large expansion plans, and Makkah and Madinah have major infrastructure works underway or in the pipeline that would assist with travel to and within these religious sites.”
Saudi exhibitors at ATM 2017 will highlight what the Kingdom has to offer and the exciting developments in the pipeline. As well as the possible Six Flags theme park, Riyadh is also expected to see the opening of two major shopping malls: Mall of Saudi, with 300,000 square metres of retail and entertainment space, a large snow park and hotels, and The Avenues Riyadh, a $1.9bn shopping complex. Another mega project that is bound to draw Saudi tourists includes Kingdom Tower in Jeddah – proposed to be the world’s next tallest building.
Also, Colliers International’s Saudi Arabia Hospitality Market report revealed domestic tourism in Saudi Arabia will grow by 7.5% per annum until 2020, compared to 6.1% for overseas visitors.
Earlier this month, Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, said Saudi Arabia will become ‘one of the biggest players’ in the industry. This followed news of additional government investment in tourism totaling $800 million.
To cope with the projected demand, there are an additional 61,224 hotel rooms in the pipeline across Saudi Arabia, despite major cities experiencing an overall drop in occupancy levels and average daily rates in 2016, as a result of low oil prices, precautionary corporate and overall government cuts in spending.
Leading global data benchmarking company STR said hotel occupancy levels in Saudi Arabia in 2016 was 59.5%, an overall drop of 4.8% on the previous year. Average daily rates (ADR) were also down 3.9% to SAR 764.08, while RevPAR stood at SAR 454.85, a fall of 8.5%.
“We expect 2017 to be more positive, with a particularly strong focus on leisure, religious and domestic tourism as the country looks to increase the contribution from the non-oil sectors,” added Press.
ATM - considered by many industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, witnessed a year-on-year visitor attendance increase of 9% to over 28,500 in 2016, with 2,785 exhibiting companies, signing business deals worth more than US$ 2.5 billion over four days.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, ATM 2017 will build on its success with the announcement of an additional hall as Reed Travel Exhibitions looks to add to its record-breaking achievements of 2016.