(MENAFN - Arab News) Oman is seeking to attract more Saudi tourists and businesspeople with better infrastructure, services and financial incentives, a leading tourism official said here recently.
Salem Al-Mamari, director of development at the Ministry of Tourism, said the Saudi market was important for Oman.
"We're continually trying to attract Saudi tourists to Oman. Our statistics show an increase in Saudi tourists to several places in Oman, particularly Salalah."
However, the tourism authority wants to attract Saudi tourists to many other places in the country. He said 17,000 Saudis visited Oman in 2013, mostly to Salalah, which is a small number in relation to the Kingdom's population.
He said Oman has well-developed infrastructure for businesspeople including hotels, transport and telecommunications. The Omani government also provides other incentives for private and public sector partnerships in land and other projects.
"We provide contracts for between 50 and 90 years. In addition, travelers from 66 nations can get visas on arrival in Oman. The others can get visas from tourism offices. Citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council countries can enter Oman without visas," he said.
He said Oman wants to continue developing its tourism industry. "We don't care about the number but the quality of tourists coming to Oman. We're trying to reach a situation where Gulf tourists can move around the region like Europeans do on their continent, and encouraging their people to spend their euros and dollars in European countries."
Al-Mamari said the Omani government wants to increase its hotel rooms from 14,000 to 32,000 by 2020. He said the country is developing five international airports including one in Salalah that would open this year, and another in Muscat that would open in 2015.