Muscat: If hotel occupancy rates are any indication of the number of people visiting a given location, then more and more Omanis and other residents of the Sultanate are visiting Dubai.
In the first six months of 2014, the number of people from Oman who stayed in hotels in Dubai was almost 163,000, an increase of 12 per cent compared to the same period in 2013.
In the months of July and August 2013, there were more than 49,000 hotel guests from Oman in Dubai, numbers that are expected to be surpassed this summer, according to officials in Dubai.
"Oman is a very important tourism market for Dubai, with the number of hotel guests from the Sultanate increasing year on year. We expect an increase in the number of Dubai visitors to the UAE in July and August 2014," said Saeed Al Falasi, Strategic Alliances Director, Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment.
Oman has even made it into the top ten list for Dubai's source markets in 2013, sliding into the number eight spot between visitors from Germany and China. Last year, the number of Omanis and residents of Oman visiting Dubai was almost 291,000, a two per cent increase over 2012 numbers, Al Falasi explained.
There are a number of factors explaining the increase in the number of people travelling to Dubai, including increased marketing by the Dubai government and people in Oman looking for experiences they can't get locally.
"Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment looks at Oman as a crucial element of its regional strategy to attract visitors, especially families from the GCC region. Every year, during our major festivals and celebrations, we make constant efforts to announce and promote among Omani families what Dubai has to offer," noted Al Falasi.
Abdulmohsin Al Shizawi from Sohar takes his family to Dubai for holidays on average twice a year for up to five days. He said Dubai appeals to Omanis because it has a wide variety of amusement parks, places to visit, and diverse activities, such as water parks, aquariums, dolphin shows, and 5D cinemas.
He said his family always finds something interesting to do in Dubai, so it's a good way to spend time during the summer holidays when his children aren't in school, whereas in Oman, there aren't as many things to do. He added that he finds it cheaper to find accommodation in Dubai.
"We don't have to spend a lot on hotels if we book in advance. It's not like in Oman. Here you can stay in a four-star or even five-star hotel for OMR30 or 40 if you look for deals," Al Shizawi said. Omani resident Ibrahim Gailani goes to Dubai on an average eight times a year, either on his own or with his family. He spent three weeks there this summer with his wife and two children. "The number one attraction is the fun! There are amazing parks, especially for families and it's the closest destination we can drive to," Gailani explained.
Places to explore
Gailani and his family especially enjoy the selection of activities and places to explore, such as the Wild Wadi, Burj Khalifa, Ferari World in Abu Dhabi, and Ski Dubai where they can play in the snow.
He also added that the variety of entertainment and live music was an attraction, since Oman has had very limited live music in restaurants and bars for the past year.
"It's all unique. You just don't get those here," he added.
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