Seeing that both logistics and tourism are powerful drivers of the economy, the government has taken special initiatives to ensure that maximum development of these sectors take place unhindered. A special issue of Central Bank of Oman’s publication Al Markazi lays utmost stress and importance of these two sectors which already are thrust areas under Tanfeedh, the national economic diversification programme. By 2020, the logistics sector is expected to double its contribution to the GDP and reach 3 billion rials. This would be a direct consequence of massive transformation taking place in this sector over the course of the next couple of years. The Sultanate has the advantage of being distinctly and strategically located to make it go ahead with big logistics projects and place it on the global trade map. Ports are vital in supporting the national economy, thanks to diverse and specialised nature of activities they undertake, including commercial, tourism and property-related. They also encourage development of small and medium enterprises and service-related activities. It is on the basis of the strength of the sector and take it to greater heights through additional impetus that the government formed the Oman Global Logistics Group. It will also develop several medium and long term plans to take forward the government’s growth plans. Complementing this is the civil aviation sector which has over the years shown positive and vigorous signs of development. The Public Authority for Civil Aviation is striving hard to create and release as many investment opportunities as possible for the private sector. Many of the multiple projects coming up will certainly provide important and necessary state-of-the art services. What remains to be seen is how quickly the government agencies derive the maximum benefits from all these measures, ensuring timely execution of projects and programmes.
In this connection, the Al Markazi issue also makes mention of the strides in on the tourism front. During the Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism held a few months ago, there was a consensus on conservation of architectural heritage which will certainly have far-reaching positive consequences. Conservation can be defined as the process of understanding, interpreting and managing the architectural heritage and ensuring their existence for future generations. Oman has more standing historic buildings per sq km than the majority of the Arab countries. Omani historic buildings are mainly fortified. There are over 500 forts, castles and towers in the country. The historical buildings include fortified palaces, caravanserais, semi-fortified domestic compounds and pseudo-fortified mansions. All of Sultanate’s wealth of architectural heritage is in utmost need of preservation and upgradation. Even as Oman continues to meet the challenges of growth and development, what is most imperative under the circumstances is that there should be no compromise of cherished traditions and social values. Alongside all these measures, the government’s tourism strategy has spared no effort to promote Oman as a quality destination. To make this a reality, the government will have to take into account as well the changing profile of present-day inbound tourists.