The Ministry of Tourism, Oman recently conducted a multi-city roadshow in India, which was led by H.E. Maitha Saif Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism (MOT), Oman along with representative partners from the tourism industry and Oman Air.
This is H.E. Maitha Saif Al Mahrouqi’s first official trip to India and she has expressed her desire to visit the country again. Talking exclusively with Travel News Digest, she said, “We had a very positive feedback on this roadshow. We came here with our 14 top business partners and it is so amazing to see what we are getting through the roadshow. We had good one-to-one B2B interactions which turned out to be fruitful. We are majorly focusing on MICE, leisure and weddings. With our new airport which has recently started its operations and our national carrier expanding, I believe this can be really good markets for us from India.”
India is one of the biggest source markets for the world and I am sure every tourism board is looking for a share from the Indian market, added H.E. Maitha Saif Al Mahrouqi, “We have 11 regions in Oman. Our main strategy is to showcase each region. The most important thing that we can offer you when in Oman is the people of Oman, our hospitality and experience.”
Oman Air, the national carrier is connected via direct flights with major Indian cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Lucknow, Kozhikode, Kochi, Goa, Jaipur and Thiruvananthapuram. Besides Oman Air, Air India, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and IndiGo are also well connected from various cities of India. Incidentally, Oman Air celebrated 25 years of operations in India.
Speaking about the response received at the roadshow, Sunil V A, Regional Vice President – ISC, Oman Air stated, “We saw an excellent response at the Delhi roadshow, people not just from Delhi but from the tier-II and tier-III markets from around Delhi had come. We see an excellent potential, especially with the events like weddings and MICE from this market. Now Oman is ready for it with the proper airport, the airline is ready and so overall it’s looking quite interesting. It is the right time for us to launch. By the end of this year, we should easily see a growth of 18 to 20% because winter is the season when we have high-end travellers travelling to Oman from October to the end of December.”
Throwing light on the expansion plans for Oman Air in India, Sunil said, “Currently, we have 11 destinations in India, but we are looking at cities like Ahmedabad, Kolkata where there is a lot of traffic and hopefully by the end of this year or early next year, we may start operating.”
Various workshops with the tour operators, meetings with wedding planners and MICE agents are the regular activities in the Indian market conducted in order to educate and promote tourism in Oman. “We had conducted a reception where more than 30 Indian wedding planners were a part of it. It was a great reception where we heard their stories and also saw what we can offer to them as a destination,” averred H.E. Maitha Saif Al Mahrouqi.
Oman received about 321,161 Indian arrivals to Oman in 2017, 7.9% high from its previous year and this year from January to June Oman saw a growth of 15.48% than last year. By the end of this year, Oman expects a double-digit growth.
Talking about the journey and their mission, Lubaina Sheerazi, India Representative, Ministry of Tourism, Sultanate of Oman said, “Our mission when we opened our office was to create more visibility and awareness and to position Oman as a high-quality leisure destination. Oman was predominantly sourcing employment outside India so it had to be positioned on one’s bucket list and also be positioned as an aspirational destination.”
At the roadshow conducted in Mumbai, Sheerazi presented to the media Oman as a destination apt for leisure, MICE and weddings.
Oman identified wedding segment a few years back and since then has received a number of enquiries and bookings. There are a lot of couples who have done their pre-wedding shoots in Oman. With all the picture-perfect backdrop it is just perfect for these shoots. The wedding segment is growing at a rate of 20-25%. The hotels have been very flexible with the needs of the Indian wedding. There are spaces to accommodate from 300 to 1100 people. Indian food is available. Oman is a short haul destination and can be reached in two hours from India. There is also a rise in bachelorette holidays and women only travellers to Oman.
Oman offers an authentic Arabian experience coupled with genuine hospitality and boasts of scenic beauty, rich culture, historic monuments and a beautiful coastline. The country has state-of-the-art infrastructure along with beautiful communion of old world charm and modernism. This makes Oman a preferred destination for travellers looking for a unique experience. The country’s stunning landscape appeals to every kind of holiday seeker; from families looking for solitude to a perfect honeymoon getaway or a group of friends in the quest for an adventure of a lifetime.
Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre has positioned Oman on the world map and will be a key driver for MICE. It was opened last year and is just 4 kms from Muscat international airport. Crowne Plaza, a 4-star property has already been open with 96 rooms. JW Marriott and ibis will open soon and this will pave way for an inventory of about 1100 rooms. OmanConvention & Exhibition Centre is opening in phases and when it will be completed, it is going to have a business park, residential buildings, a two-tiered auditorium with 3,250 seater and 20 additional meeting spaces. Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre has already received many corporate bookings for 2019.
To encourage more travellers to visit the country, Oman has recently announced a new short-term tourist visa at 5 Omani Riyal (OMR) equivalent to approximately INR 940 to visit the Sultanate for a period of 10 days.
“I strongly believe that the roadshow was exceptionally organised – having been to a few of them with different trade partners, I must say that not only the format was great but also the quality of the agents who have attended the three events – they were up to part and were very engaged.”
Adil Ait Lahri, Sales Manager – Leisure, Kempinski Hotel Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
“It was perfect timing for Al Bustan Palace as the roadshow was towards the end of September and our stunning Palace was reopening from October 1. Delhi and Mumbai are always key cities for outbound to Oman especially Indian Weddings, Celebration groups and Corporate MICE. Ahmedabad has a lot of potential for high-end FIT business but Oman is still a new market for them.”
Rahil Khan- Director of Sales, Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel
“Roadshow was a great platform to meet the Omani delegates and helped us to understand various nuances of the country. Oman is definitely going to be one of the most travelled destinations by Indians.”
Sunita Amarnani, Head Products & Operations, Kesari Tours Pvt. Ltd.
“Attending the Oman Tourism roadshow which focused on a very unique format of individual meetings with various high-end hotels and the top destination managements companies, has helped us understand that Oman has something for everyone and can adapt to almost every whim and fancy of the seasoned traveller.”
Mehernosh Colombowalla, Director, Beyond Borders Travel Management Company Pvt. Ltd.
“The roadshow has helped to educate Indian agents, and Oman tourism is putting great efforts in creating all the promotions and trade shows in the Indian market and taking interests in visiting major cities in India which will surely increase the numbers in Oman from Indian tourism industry.”
Urjit Thaker, Founder & CEO, World Wide Travels – Ahmedabad, India
“Oman roadshow was a great opportunity for local trade fraternity to meet the top inbound tour operators and hoteliers through structured meetings, and understand the variety of experiences that Oman has to offer to Indian travellers.
Lokesh Chawla, Xtra Mile Travel Services