Oman's Ministry of Tourism ban on renting holiday homes out to tourists

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Muscat: Residential apartments should not be leased to tourists according to a new official ruling that could affect thousands who normally cash in during khareef season.

The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) has moved to prevent owners of furnished residential properties leasing them on a daily or weekly basis without obtaining the required approval.

"Managing and operating tourism accommodation establishments requires licencing from the ministry and other government departments," the statement said.

"Accordingly, the ministry hereby urges all owners of leasable residential properties not to lease their properties to avoid being subject to legal accountability."

Experts said that the move was aimed at standardising its property market and regulating the tourism market.

The problem becomes more acute during the khareef season when Salalah experiences rains that attract tourists from the region and all across the world.

During this season, a large number of citizens move out of their houses and set up tents on the outskirts of the city to let out their homes to guests. "They charge anything between OMR50 and OMR60 per day for their furnished apartments, depending on the location," said Manpreet Singh, Chairman of the Indian Social Club, Salalah.

"This is definitely affecting our business and we are losing out on a huge amount of money," admitted Hamed Al Rashdi, manager of Juweira Boutique Hotel, Salalah.

Then there are people who go on a long holiday and let out their furnished apartments for tourism purposes in Salalah. Once the khareef season is over, they again settle down in their houses.

This year, the khareef festival will begin from the second day of Eid Al Fitr and will run till September 6, under the theme "Love for Oman Brings Us Together."

According to statistics, the number of visitors during the khareef season in 2013  increased by 23.5 per cent to 433,639, compared to 351,195 visitors in 2012.

Omanis accounted for 298,749 (68.9 per cent) of the total number of visitors, compared to 211,042 in 2012.

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Reader Comments

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this current arrangement. This ban is ridiculous and should be thrown out the window - there are more important things to be considered and reviewed within the country.

If visitors to the region are willing to stay in furnished apartments rather than go to the hotels, surely it means one of the following:
1. Hotels take advantage of the season and significantly raise prices (which they currently do).
2. Hotels are fully booked and cannot accommodate more guests (which has happened).
3. Those hotels that are not fully booked, are not up to the quality and standard that tourists are looking for. Or may simply be too far from the city center.
4. Tourists prefer the "home-away-from-home" by renting out a furnished apartment over a standard hotel experience.

Its simple math at this point. If you remove the ability for property owners to lease their apartments, you immediately reduce the amount of tourists the region can accommodate. That then directly affects the amount of money entering the country through tourism (isnt that something were trying to increase?).

In addition to the above, property owners will realize that they can no longer profit from short term rentals during the Khareef season, and then may increase the overall rent per month for annual or bi-annual contracts. Especially for those who have built a financial plan in order to pay back their loans within the same amount of time.

The news constantly portrays the increase in traffic to Salalah due to the Khareef season. This will surely decrease now because of this ban.

Personally speaking, I was looking to invest in property in Salalah. That is no longer the case thanks to this.

I say this again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this arrangement. is a highly popular website that advertises exactly this: people wanting to rent out their apartments/villas to others willing to pay. Theres a huge market out there for these sort of things. The ministries should realize the resources they have available to them, and encourage homeowners to advertise their properties in the international market. Allow your average citizen to assist in growing the Omani economy and assist in expanding the tourism market.

This ban is damaging, counter-productive, and the negative implications are staggering if they pile up.

I dont agree. It is actually a good move that is regulating the business. Theyre not forcing people to stay in hotels either. If people would like to continue to rent out their houses/apartments they need to get licensed and continue. It says in the second paragraph:

The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) has moved to prevent owners of furnished residential properties leasing them on a daily or weekly basis without obtaining the required approval.

"without obtaining the required approval."

what better way to spread some of the benefits of tourism to the wider Omani community then to let Omanis rent their rooms apartments or Villas to Tourists

I note that this notice has been posted on the Ministry of Tourism web site but nothing to state how one applies for a license

One is left to wonder what motive the MOT has to make such a ruling in January this year they forced the closure of 3 superb guests houses in Muscat all with 5 star reviews. If all this is intended to drive Tourists to hotels perhaps a small minority will transfer but by far the majority simply will not visit Oman and the long term damage to Tourism in Oman will be incalculable

It is utterly absurd to think that people who wish to rent an apartment for their holiday are going to be driven to an expensive hotel. Equally those looking for guest house accommodation or Bed and breakfast want just that particularly European Tourists. Some will find alternative budget or 1 star hotels but many will simply go else where . There is a dire shortage of good quality budget hotels and some are just awful.. This nonsense will soon go viral on travel sites like trip advisor and travel guide books

What a pity for Tourists resorts such as Jebel sifa which are struggling to get off the ground due to a lack of occupancy. In an an attempt to make the resort more accessible and encourage more visitors a new road is being built through the mountains at great expense. But I guess these will just have to be day trippers as the beautiful apartments down there will not be allowed to be rented. to tourists.

What is the opinion out there will non tourists ( I guess they would have to be defined as holding a resident card ) be allowed to rent for weekends Eid Holidays etc and if there are, will they be able to invite their friends who might be tourists ?
all gets a bit complicated !

It is very sad to see such huge expense being spent around the world on advertising Oman and to see it then be totally undermined by rulings such as this

The alternative of course is to camp as this is still being promoted