MUSCAT: Europe is an important source of tourists for Oman, accounting for 19 per cent of the total arrivals annually, according to H E Maitha al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Tourism (MoT).

She was speaking at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London which was held earlier this month.

H E Maitha led the Omani delegation with the participation of 24 companies from the travel and tourism sector in the sultanate. She said that participation in the exhibition was important as it represented one of the largest gatherings of representatives from the travel and tourism industry.

She said that over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of tourists from European countries, rising up to eight per cent in 2014 compared to 2013. This year, till July, Oman had received about 234,000 tourists from Europe. Of the total, visitors from UK top the list with 79,365. She added that the annual growth in the number of tourists is the result of promotional campaigns organised by the ministry.

“The proposed Tourism Strategy 2040 and the launch of important projects like the new Muscat International Airport, Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre and a slew of world-class hotels and other tourist projects, will all contribute to the growth in the number of tourists coming to the sultanate.”

Alison Cryer, director, Oman Ministry of Tourism, UK and Ireland, said, “The number of tourists from Britain to Oman reached 139,362 in 2014 and thus leads in sending tourists to the sultanate from Europe. We work to promote the sultanate in the British market through media and distribution of leaflets and posters. We also undertake promotional campaigns in British cities and hold workshops for the travel and tourism sector on the components of Omani tourism.”

Meanwhile, MoT’s representative office in the UK has won the Star Middle East Tourist Office Award. The Travel Bulletin Star Award is the second consecutive one for the UK office. H E Maitha received the award. The Travel Bulletin Star Award 2015 was announced in September. It is UK travel trade’s most prestigious awards programme rewarding every sector of the tourism industry.