Muscat: Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran), the Sultanate's tourism development and investment arm, has been taking a series of initiatives to develop domestic tourism.
These initiatives include building three to four star category hotels in various tourism destinations, creation of Atana hotel chain, a local brand, and plans to set up budget hotels in two to three star categories in different parts of the country.
"We have launched new hotels in different regions, which include Millennium Resort Mussanah, Crowne Plaza Duqm, Jabal Akhdar Alila Resort and Atana Musandam.
Flow of tourists
"Hopefully, this will increase the flow of tourists to these places. We are trying to add value to the overall supply chain by introducing high standard services through our hospitality assets," Abdul Wahid Al Farsi, vice-president – external affairs – Omran, told the Times of Oman.
"These initiatives have shown success, especially in areas that lacked sufficient hotel accommodation and other complementing facilities," Al Farsai said.
Atana brand will cater to high-end restaurants
"We have taken the lead in terms of launching these projects in places like Jabal Akhdar and Duqm where no private sector developer was keen to start projects of this magnitude. This will encourage private sector to complement these projects with other facilities, he added.
Referring to the recent initiative to create Oman's own hospitality brand Atana to promote the sector in the country and its rich cultural heritage, Al Farsi said the plan is to expand the Atana hotel chain to cover most of the three and four star hotels that the company owns. Presently, the Atana chain has two hotels – Atana Khasab and Atana Musandam. "The Atana brand will also be catering to high-end restaurants, standalone SPA facilities and other tourism related products."
Atana, the first of its kind Omani hotel brand that blends age-old local traditions with contemporary culture, aims to celebrate the diversity and integrity of the country and its people, enabling guests to explore a genuine Omani hospitality.
The core vision which underscores Atana Musandam was to cater to the increasing demand for domestic tourism within the Sultanate. The convenient location of the hotel, with its proximity to the airport and Khasab port, in addition to the property being a 'dry hotel', ensures that it is the perfect choice for families to spend weekends and holidays away from the fast pace of city life.
He said the overall strategy is to have a mix of both high-end resorts and budget hotels run by Atana.
Al Farsi said Jabal Akhdar and Salalah are the most preferred destinations for local tourists. "Salalah's attraction is seasonal (during Khareef season), while tourists go to Jabal Akhdar year around."
Referring to the issue of high hotel tariffs in the country, he said it is an issue for promoting domestic tourism, but it all depends on the supply and demand formula. "In the peak season (October-April period), hotels tend to increase their rates to compensate for the losses in the low season," he said. Omani hotels can overcome losses during off-peak season with attractive re-packaging or new schemes.
For instance, Muscat hotel rooms can be marketed during summer season along with hotel rooms in Salalah so that Salalah visitors can spend a few days in Muscat.
"Omran is trying to introduce budget hotels in two and three star category to cater to other segments of tourists like the youth and local tourists, especially those with families. This will also encourage domestic tourism."
Al Farsi said Omran and its joint venture hotels have a combined strength of 1,952 hotel rooms now in the country and once the ongoing projects are completed, there will be an additional 2,934 rooms in the next three to four years.
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