Tourism in Oman is booming. With international arrivals consistently on the rise, the Arab Sultanate attracts millions of visitors every year.
From the art in Muscat’s Grand Mosque to the natural beauty of the Hajar Mountains and the beaches in Dhofar, there are plenty of reasons why foreigners decide to spend their holidays in Oman.
The government hasn’t failed to notice the potential effect that tourism can have on the local economy and decided to encourage arrivals with a number of measures regarding visa policies and improvements in airline connections.
At the end of 2019, reports projected that in particular, Chinese tourists choosing to travel to the GCC (the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) will increase by 54% in the next few years. That means 2.2 million Chinese tourists visiting the area in 2023.
What Is Tourism Like in Oman?
During the last decade, international arrivals have risen so much that in 2018, 4.2 million international tourists traveled to Oman, doubling the 2.1 million of 2017. Although the majority of tourists (about 800,000) were from other Arab nations, countries like India, the United States, and the United Kingdom had their number of visitors in the hundreds of thousands.
What is Oman Famous for?
Oman has much to offer. It’s not by chance that it won the Capital of Arab Tourism Award in 2012 and, in the same year, the capital Muscat was named the best city to visit in the world by the travel guide Lonely Planet.
Some of the most popular reasons to travel to Oman are:
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Bahla Fort
- Traditional Arab markets (souqs), the most famous being the Ruwi and Muttrah Souqs in Muscat
- Music and cultural festivals among the finest in the region
- Scenic excursions in the stunning Hajar Mountains
- Beach activities on the pristine Omani coastline (including visiting the turtle-nesting site Ras al Jinz)
- Camelback or four-wheel drive rides across the desert.
Chinese Tourism to Boom in the Region
Reports proceedings the 2020 Arabian Travel Market (ATM) look with great interest to Chinese tourism in the GCC area. The ATM will be held at the World Trade Center in Dubai between April 19-20, 2020, and it will represent a chance for countries around the world to showcase their value and potential as tourist destinations.
The ATM represents a great indicator of the state of the tourism sector in North Africa and the Middle East. In 2019, almost 40,000 people participated and 150 countries were represented.
During the 2020 event, the Arab China Tourism forum will be a chance for networking and exploring the opportunities offered by the Chinese tourism market, which is currently expanding at a rapid pace.
Ahead of the ATM, Colliers International predicts that China will remain a top source market for the area. Not only that, but numbers will grow exponentially and countries like Oman will see a fresh stream of tourists coming from China.
This is welcome news, especially seen that Chinese tourists are known to be the world’s highest spenders while abroad. Colliers report that in 2018 alone, Chinese travelers spent as much as $277 billion.
On this subject, Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said:
“Focusing on the GCC, Chinese visitors to the region are expected to generate an estimated US$3.48 billion in travel and tourism revenue by 2023, an increase of 71% when compared with figures from 2018”.
Why Are Chinese Tourists Going to Travel to Oman More?
Besides the tourist attractions, there are several reasons why Chinese visitors are expected to be on the rise in the area:
- A more encouraging environment. China is among the countries whose visitors can conveniently apply for an online visa for Oman. The new visa regimen allows travelers to complete the application in minutes online, without the need to visit an Omani embassy or consulate. Moreover, the hospitality and tourism sector is improving services and infrastructure to match the higher demand.
- Chinese growth. The Chinese economy enjoys strong and stable growth. This results in increasing disposable income for Chinese tourists from different social extractions.