The drizzles have turned it all green, carpeting the entire landscape to form lush and misty hills, canopied roads and stunning valleys with springs and streams. A real paradise on this part of the earth, it has to be, for picnicking or for spending holidays with family and friends.
The annual southwest monsoon has done the magic once again, turning the whole of Dhofar region into one of the most sought-after tourist hotspots in the GCC.
Visitors have been flocking, many flying down to Salalah from northern Oman and neighbouring countries and others travelling by road in their 4WDs and sedans, registering a huge 170 percent increase in the number of visitors (as per the National Centre for Statistics and Information figures between June 21 to August 6, 2014). Though awestruck and excited with the astonishing beauty of nature, they cannot remain content with the popular Salalah, Taqa, Ittin or Mirbat areas, but move on to explore remote but scenic places like Shurathat and Shuwaimiyah.
Following the recent Eid holidays, visitors have left for home taking along with them sweet memories to be cherished for days to come. But what have they left behind? Besides the streams, on the waysides and right in the middle of green pastures lie plastic bottles, food leftovers and other garbage, destroying the natural beauty, though the festivities of the Khareef season are far from over. They have left trash behind, and now it's time for the Dhofar Municipality or voluntary organisations like Clean Up Oman (CUO) to do the cleanup.
Indeed, the figures show that Salalah or the entire Dhofar region, over the years, has gained popularity as a major tourist spot in the region, but reckless littering seems to pose a great challenge, calling for awareness campaigns and hefty fines. At least, many local people and saddened tourists have started raising concern through social media on the grave issue.
"We have noticed that littering in Dhofar is increasing every year as the number of tourists increase. Though Dhofar Municipality rises to the occasion by providing large bins in main tourist areas, it does not help in preventing people from throwing garbage around," says Khalid Ateeq, a resident of Salalah. Now many have joined him urging the authorities to introduce and implement tough laws against littering.
Khalid and other residents like Adil bin Salim Bait Saleem and Salim Abou Hisham have also joined the CUO, which has initiated its cleanup campaign in Dhofar, to do their part in keeping the place clean. The first cleanup was held in Taqa last Friday, the second at Awqad on Sunday and the drives will continue for another month at different places, mostly on weekends.
"It's sad to see how thoughtless and irresponsible people are when they litter near beautiful springs in places like Ittin which are frequented by tourists during the entire Khareef season.
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