As the weather in the Sultanate getting milder with every passing day, the outdoors season is set to begin. It is that time of the year when every open space gets filled with families out to make the most of their free time. Weekends make the open areas like parks and beaches bustling with activity as people flock to these places with grilling gear. Frolicsome children add to the atmosphere. People try to make full use of the opportunity to be outdoors as nothing has as great a feel-good quality as fresh air in the outdoors. Urban green spaces in Muscat are being spruced up to welcome the throngs. The authorities are taking particular care to provide proper public amenities because the crowds that visit these places are of all ages. This is also the time when families love their weekend travel to picnic spots strewn across the Sultanate. Good roads are an added incentive for people to travel around, bringing the fun spots even more accessible. This mild weather also attract thousands of visitors from beyond the nation’s borders as people in neighbouring countries love the verdant charm of Oman, its hospitality and the comparatively better facilities. The authorities are constructing integrated roadside tourist facilities to take care of the needs of the visitors who love to drive around to get a closer look at the wilayats and suburban centres. The Sultanate’s world-class road network extends to other countries and there are many people passionate about such rejuvenating rides.
The construction of roadside tourist stations in different parts of the Sultanate is in an advanced stage. The Tourism Ministry is building 17 such stations, each one complete with fuel station, hotel, restaurant, retail outlets, tourism information centre, rest rooms, children’s play areas and prayer rooms. The idea is to make people feel at home even while they are away from home on a road trip. Those who have driven to Salalah from Muscat know how important such facilities are. They help the travellers, especially drivers, relax and get refreshed. It is particularly apt that the first such centres are getting ready on Adam-Thumrait road and Batinah Expressway. The involvement of private players makes the project unique, offering the local community a chance to get involved in monetising their traditional hospitality. The large-scale participation of the private sector augurs well for the nation’s tourism industry, which is looking for massive infrastructure investment for capacity building. The Sultanate’s long-term economic strategy is to tap its inherent strengths to raise growth profile. That is why the economic diversification programme is hinged on the key sectors of manufacturing, logistics and tourism. Any strategy focused on these sectors has a high success potential because of the Sultanate’s geographical proximity to several growth centres. This geographical dividend will easily translate into investments from abroad. There are several five-star hotel projects on the anvil aimed at tapping this hospitality sector boom. The hospitality sector’s capacity expansion is coming at the right time with a steady increase in tourist arrivals. These developments show that the government’s tourism push is right on track with the process of making master plans for projects in different parts of the Sultanate going full steam ahead.