Oman has become a hotspot for tourists from around the world, with more than 3 million visitors exploring the country in 2016, according to a report that was this week issued by the Ministry of Tourism (MoT).
The MoT report revealed that 3,042,695 tourists visited the Sultanate last year – a 16.2 per cent growth rate compared with 2015. The growth rate was reported to be highest (46.9 per cent) for passengers arriving via cruise ships, with a total of 217,153 tourists visiting the Sultanate via sea.
Meanwhile, the annual khareef season in Salalah attracted 652,986 tourists last year – a 26.8 per cent increase from that of previous years, while castles and forts across the country attracted 284,725 visitors, or a rise of 14.3 per cent.
One of Oman’s favourite aqua destinations, Wadi Bani Khalid, continued its reign, attracting a total of 156,119 visitors, or 38.3 per cent more compared with 2015. This was followed by the turtle reserve at Ras Al Jinz with a 17.3 per cent increase to 36,070 visitors.
With a total of 162,499 tourists, however, the mountains of Jebel Akhdar recorded a nominal increase of 0.3 per cent for 2016.
The Ministry of Tourism said the increase in the number of visitors was due to the development of infrastructure, in addition to projects that “boost the tourist attractions’ potential of the Sultanate”.
More recently, Muscat International Airport was reported to have the highest rate of growth among all airports in the Middle East. The statistics were released by the Airports Council International (ACI), the global trade representative of the world’s airport authorities.
Muscat International Airport showed a growth rate of 14.7 per cent, which was higher than its counterparts in Doha (Hamad International Airport) and Dubai (Dubai International Airport), which showed a growth rate of 14 and 9.7 per cent, respectively.