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Rush of visitors

The rain-drenched Dhofar Governorate has literally become the hottest destination in the region now with people flocking to the lap of lush greenery. It is not just the salubrious weather that is attracting the thousands. Along with the nature, the sites marking the nation’s ancient heritage and experiences like the Frankincense Trail are proving to be massive hits. Al Baleed and Sumhuram archaeological sites saw more than 9,000 visitors in June. This was despite the Khareef season the Salalah festival beginning in last week of the month. Statistics of the footfalls to various tourism landmarks provided by the Department of Frankincense Land Sites at His Majesty the Sultan’s Adiser’s Office for Cultural Affairs. Among the top attractions are Al Baleed Archaeological Park, Frankincense Land Museum, Sumhuram Archaeological Site, Wadi Dokka and Wbar Archaeological Site. Some of these sites like Al Baleed, Sumhuram, ‘Shasir Area’ and Wadi Dokka are recognsied by United Nations as World Heritage Sites. The footfalls are indeed rising with every day and about 32,000 people have experienced Khareef ambience from June 21 to July 1. This is testimony to the sound promotional work that the Sultanate’s tourism authorities have been undertaking across the region and beyond for the nation’s natural wealth and ancient sites. A survey by the National Centre for Statistics and Information shows that there has been about 13 per cent increase in the number of visitors this year over the same period last year. All demographics of the Sultanate and the region are represented among the tourists visiting the Dhofar area.

The arrangements that the authorities have made by deploying adequate personnel of the Royal Oman Police and the General Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance to ease the traffic flow and help people in emergencies have been meticulous. The e-visa facility has been a definite boost to tourism this season because the online system simplifies the procedures and increases the efficiencies. The facility not only makes applying for an entry permit easy but also instils a certain amount of certainty to the whole process because its users will have the visa ready in their mailbox when they arrive at the ports of entry. The world-class tourism infrastructure that the Ministry of Tourism has succeeded in building has also helped increase the arrival of people. The Dhofar region is dotted with many archaeological sites and monuments sought after by national and expat population. Some of these sites date back to megalithic times attesting to the antiquity of this culture and traditions. The Ministry of Tourism can certainly be confident of improving on the statistics. The Sultanate’s excellent road network has been encouraging many from even other GCC nations to drive down. The e-visa system and the improved roads are indeed encouraging whole families to take the leisure drive. The steady rise in visitors points to the planning success of the Sultanate that proposes to ensure that in the next few years investments worth 18.9 billion rials are made in the tourism sector, including the private sector. The entire tourism strategy is aimed at building capacities through public-private partnerships, aimed at achieving 11.7 million tourist arrivals by 2040.