MUSCAT: The tourism sector in Oman is expected to contribute in a big way to the country’s GDP in the future, officials said at the Oman Projects Forum on Wednesday.

The concluding day, titled Integrated Tourism Day, also discussed various hotel projects that are coming up in the country.

Speaking about the increase in the number of tourists to the sultanate, Edward James, director of content and analysis, MEED Projects, the region’s leading projects tracker said, “As many as 2,121,229 tourists visited the sultanate in 2013 as compared to 1,385,006 in 2006.” He said that revenues of hotels have also gone up to RO198,832,000 in 2013 from RO110,514,000 in 2006. Ten hotels are coming up across the country and 15 more are expected.

These include Salalah Beach Resort (US$200mn), W Hotel (US$160mn), Dhofar Beach Resort (US$150mn), Kempinski Hotel (US$129mn) and New Crowne Plaza (Convention Hotel No 2 – US$120mn). Eng Ali Bin Nasser al Rasbi, acting CEO of Omran said, “Growth in tourism sector will boost job opportunities as well.”

Speaking on the topic, ‘The impact of operational readiness of new and upcoming airports for the sultanate’, Nagy Abu Zeid, senior manager-strategy and development, Oman Airports Management Company, said, “The annual contribution of travel and tourism to GDP is expected to rise to RO3,886.3mn by 2024 from RO2,274.7mn in 2014.

Oman Projects Forum

“By the year 2024, 116,000 jobs will be supported by the travel and tourism industry. We are developing five airports connecting the country’s capital, regional trade centres and tourist destinations with the world. Aviation in Oman is developing to one of the biggest industry sector contributing to Oman’s economy, GDP and work.”

David Graham, CEO, Oman Sail, said, “Major sporting events and creating a sport culture can also have a big impact on tourism.” Over the three days, decision-makers from across the infrastructure and energy sectors including government representatives, developers and consultants also offered insights into various projects in the pipeline. The event was held at Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel.