Muscat: The Salalah Tourism Festival (STF) this year is drawing large crowds not only from Oman but from other GCC countries as well.
"The festival is drawing tourists due to a rare geographical phenomenon of delicate drizzles, which begin in the last week of June and continue till September," said a member of the Salalah Tourism Festival panel.
Among this year's attractions are exhibitions of a traditional village where more than 1,000 craftspersons present their skills and products, souvenirs and other objects. There are more such facilities in Salalah, Taqah and Mirbat. The festival opened on the second day of Eid and will continue till September 6.
This year's Khareef Festival has seen close collaboration between the public and private sectors, which is reflected at different venues, including the Global Village where hundreds of stalls would be set up by both Omani and foreign entrepreneurs.
Inter-wilayat competitions of traditional song, dance and folklore has always been a centre of attraction among the festival's visitors. Last year, 12 traditional folklore shows were performed by troupes showcasing the rich heritage of Oman. The whole of Salalah goes green during this time, giving a rare feeling to the tourists, especially those who visit from the countries where rains are a rare.
The festival attracts a large number of tourists from the neighbouring GCC countries as also from Europe and other Middle Eastern countries. Over the years, Salalah has earned a reputation as one of the best summer destinations in the entire Middle East.
It may be recalled that the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) report showed that the overall number of visitors – including Omanis – in the period between June 21 and August 20 – stood at 352,755, compared to 303,365 in the same period in 2013, representing an annual growth of 16.3 per cent.
Omani nationals comprised 74 per cent of the visitors, while 12.7 per cent were UAE nationals and 4.9 per cent were from other GCC states.