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Oman’s tourism sector embraces culture and sustainability to attract investments

Oman’s tourism industry is undergoing a dynamic transformation, leveraging its rich cultural heritage and sustainable practices to attract investments and enhance its position on the global tourism map. In a recent episode of Tejarah Talks Podcast— hosted by Shabib al Maamari, Managing Director of Visit Oman — Azzan al Busaidi, Under-Secretary of Tourism at Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, along with Eng Said al Shanfari, CEO of Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC), shed light on the exciting trends and strategies shaping Oman’s business and tourism landscape.

The duo highlighted Oman’s recent participation as the host country at the prestigious ITB Berlin 2024, one of the world’s largest travel and tourism shows with over 100,000 attendees from 100 countries. Being the host country provided Oman with a unique opportunity to showcase its capabilities in tourism, foster industry connections, and stimulate economic growth. The event witnessed Oman’s commitment to sustainable tourism practices, cultural preservation, and community engagement, aligning with the Oman Vision 2040.

Investing in sustainability has become a cornerstone of Oman’s tourism development strategy. The country is on a mission to preserve its natural and cultural treasures while embracing innovative technologies and eco-friendly initiatives. “The idea of applying sustainable practices in developing tourism projects itself reflects how serious sustainability is taken into consideration,” Al Busaidi said. Projects like the The Sustainable City-Yiti and adventure tourism offerings (like the Khasab zipline) are demonstrating Oman’s commitment to creating a diverse and sustainable tourism product.

Eng Al Shanfari emphasised the pivotal role of the OCEC in promoting sustainable tourism and attracting business travelers. The centre, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, serves as a hub for meaningful business interactions, knowledge exchange, and the showcasing of Oman’s unique cultural heritage. Events like the Oman Botanic Gardens project and the Oman Sustainability Week play a crucial role in highlighting Oman’s commitment to environmental sustainability and cultural enrichment.

The unique selling point of Oman lies in its authentic cultural heritage, attracting business travelers who are willing to spend more and explore the country beyond their corporate engagements. The blend of traditional Omani hospitality, historic forts, and vibrant communities offers a compelling narrative for investors and event organisers seeking to create memorable experiences for their audiences.

The ministry’s focus on community-oriented tourism projects, such as the management of heritage sites by local companies and the revitalisation of abandoned villages, highlights the government’s efforts to involve and empower local communities in the tourism sector. By preserving and showcasing Oman’s cultural assets, these initiatives are not only attracting investments but also creating sustainable livelihood opportunities for the local population.

As Oman positions itself as a leading destination for conferences, exhibitions, and business events, its unique cultural heritage and sustainable practices are driving its competitive edge in the global tourism market. The emphasis on authenticity, sustainability, and community engagement distinguishes Oman as a forward-thinking and culturally rich destination for business and leisure travelers alike.

The collaborations between the public and private sectors, the promotion of sustainable tourism practices, and the integration of Omani culture into the tourism experience are paving the way for a vibrant and inclusive tourism sector in Oman. By leveraging its cultural heritage as a unique selling point, Oman is not only attracting investments but also creating a sustainable and authentic tourism ecosystem that resonates with modern travelers.

Oman’s strategic focus on culture, heritage, and sustainability as key pillars of its tourism development strategy is yielding promising results in attracting investments and positioning the country as a premier destination for both business and leisure travelers. By blending tradition with innovation and community engagement, Oman is setting new standards for sustainable tourism practices in the region and beyond.