Muscat: The spending of inbound tourism increased in the last four years of the current five-year plan to OMR2.3 billion, compared to OMR2.1 billion in the previous five-year plan (2011-2015).
This indicator reflects the tourism growth in the current five-year plan which started in 2016 and ends this year.
Tourism is one of the main sectors that the Sultanate focuses on in the current five-year plan. It has witnessed many positive indicators, supported by an increase in government investments in establishing infrastructure and an increase in private sector investment.
The annual statistical book recently issued by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) indicated that inbound tourism spending increased last year to about OMR685 million, compared to OMR364.7 million in 2015. The inbound tourism spending recorded successive annual growth over the past years amid the increase in the number of tourists, tourist’s nights and average night stay.
The current five-year plan has witnessed the opening of many major tourism and infrastructure projects that support the tourism sector, most notably Muscat International Airport, which received more than 16 million passengers in 2019, on incoming and outgoing international and domestic flights, compared to 10.3 million passengers in 2015.
The current five-year plan also witnessed the opening of the Oman Convention and Exhibition Center (OCEC), which hosted many local and international conferences and exhibitions that contributed to the revitalization of conference tourism.
The tourist visa facilities provided by the Royal Oman Police (ROP) contributed to the increase in the number of tourists coming to the Sultanate. The statistical data indicate that 1.8 million inbound visitors arrived in the Sultanate in 2019, with tourist visas, compared to 1.2 million visitors in 2015 – a growth rate of 41.6 per cent.
The total number of tourists in 2019 reached 3.5 million tourists, compared to 3.2 million tourists in 2018, and 2.6 million tourists in 2015. The current five-year plan has witnessed a remarkable increase in the number of single-day visitors, whether they come to attend conferences or onboard cruise ships. The total number of single-day visitors in 2019 reached one million visitors, representing about 28.7 per cent of the total number of tourists coming to the Sultanate. In 2015 the number of single-day visitors reached about 725.000 visitors, representing 27.5 per cent of the total number of tourists during that year.
There was an increase in 2019 of 47 per cent in the total number of visitors onboard cruise ships, with 283,488 visitors, compared to 193,467 visitors in 2018. The average spending per tourist in 2019 increased to OMR195.3, compared to OMR138.5 in 2015. The direct added value of the tourism sector in 2019 recorded an increase of 4.1 per cent, to reach OMR717.9 million, compared to OMR689.4 million in 2018. The contribution of tourism to the gross domestic product increased last year to 2.5 per cent, compared to 2.2 per cent in 2018.
The last four years witnessed a strong increase in the number of tourist nights, which jumped in 2019 to 19.9 million tourist nights, compared to 13.1 million tourist nights in 2015. The average night-stay per person rose last year to 8 nights, compared to 6.9 in 2015. In terms of the number of tourist nights, 2018 scored the best performance in the current five-year plan, with 20.3 million nights, and 8, 8 nights for the average stay. The global tourism sector was affected last year by the slowdown in global economic growth and geopolitical tensions. This year the tourism sector was affected by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sultanate has a good infrastructure that encourages the tourism sector. The total number of hotel establishments at the end of 2019 reached 491 hotels, including 26 five-star hotels, compared to 318 hotel facilities in 2015 including 11 five-star hotels. The hotel revenues rose last year to OMR276.6 million, compared to OMR226.9 million in 2015.
The Sultanate has a variety of hotel facilities that meet the needs of tourists and visitors, such as hotels from one-star to five-star categories, in addition to hotel apartments, rest houses, camps, guest houses, heritage lodges and green lodges. The total number of hotel rooms in these facilities reached by the end of 2019 to more than 25,400. Hotel rooms registered an increase of 14.5 per cent, compared to 22,200 hotel rooms at the end of 2018. It is expected that 96 new hotel facilities (with 6,942 hotel rooms) will be opened in 2020 and 2021.