Muscat: Salalah is the most sought after destination for both nationals and expatriates in Oman to spend Eid Al Fitr holidays, travel agents claimed citing ticket booking figures.
"For the Eid Al Fitr holidays, we have quite a good number of ticket bookings for Salalah. Lack of interest in foreign destinations due to lesser number of holidays and unavailability of tickets to these places is making travellers opt for Salalah," Raji DeMonte, general manager at Universal Travel and Tourism Agencies, said.
"Last year, we had a good many bookings for Iran and other Middle East countries. But this time that trend is not so visible. Instead, people are preferring to go to Salalah. The climate is also perfect in Salalah to enjoy the holidays. For those who want to beat the Muscat heat, Salalah is a perfect getaway," Raji added.
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"Moreover, this time, there are no tickets available to the South Asian countries. Almost all the tickets were purchased in advance by those who had left Oman for summer vacations. So, if somebody even plans to go to a South Asian destination, it is quite impossible," Raji added.
Eid Al Fitr holiday is likely to start on July 28. The one-month long Khareef season in Salalah began on June 21.
Tuesday, Oman Air, the national carrier of Oman, announced its plans to increase the number of Muscat-Salalah services from 52 flights per week to 84, for the July 24 to September 15 period, to cope with the increasing popularity of the destination during the Khareef season.
In 2013, the total number of visitors during Khareef season (June 21 to September 21) increased by 23.5 per cent to 433,639, compared to 351,195 visitors during the same period in 2012.
"It is true that we have only a few bookings for foreign destinations during Eid Al Fitr holidays, but people have already started to book tickets to foreign destinations during the Eid Al Adha holidays," Renny Johnson, executive manager at Mezoon Travel, said.
"We have bookings for the UK, France and Switzerland. We even have bookings for many hot destinations in Far East countries," Renny added.
While talking about the foreign destinations, Renny's opinion also resonated with those of Raji that many are heading for Salalah to escape the heat and enjoy the Eid Al Fitr holidays and Khareef festival.
According to a top official in Oman Air, with up to 14 scheduled flights a day from Muscat, and a minimum of 10 per day, Oman Air is offering a record number of seats to Salalah from Muscat this summer, thus providing a perfect introduction to the area's natural beauty, rich culture and superb hospitality.
"There is no better place to escape the heat of the Middle East summer. However, seats are selling out fast, with more visitors planning to visit Salalah and Dhofar region. Hence we would advise travellers to book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment," Abdulrazaq Alraisi, chief commercial officer at Oman Air, said.
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