Urgent need to develop tourist spots |
Oman Daily Observer - 10 July, 2012
Author: Abdulaziz al Jahdhami
Due to the Sultanate's distinguished geographical location Oman is known as one of the best tourist destination in the region. The country's uniqueness in its natural and environmental diversity has enabled it to attract tourists and visitors from all around the world. A number of beautiful features such as the historical and archaeological landmarks, breathtaking valleys, striking sandy beaches, eye-catching wonderful mountains and other attractions play a vital role in identifying Oman as a worldwide tourist spot and a must-visit country.
Unlike cities some of the Arab countries in the region, which more or less lost their Arabian identity while turning themselves into multinational centres, Oman, which is rich in scenic natural landscapes and cultural heritage, has managed to retain its traditional charm. Despite many modern changes in the country, it has still managed to preserve its pristine Omani heritage and culture as well as the unique traditions. It is a fact, admitted by many of those who have visited the country, that Oman is a safe and attractive destination for tourists.
All these remarkable features of the Omani environment play a vital role in promoting tourism in the Sultanate and in attracting visitors. In fact, considering all these attributes nature has fulfilled its role for Oman, however, it is time for the people to do something for the cause of the tourism sector?
The government has strived to provide the necessary infrastructure to develop tourism in Oman. The Ministry of Tourism has accorded special attention to promote tourism in Oman and abroad in different ways through campaigns, tourism offices, advertising and many other techniques. I believe the private sector and investors could also contribute as well in this regard.
On the other hand, our internal tourism has not been given sufficient attention either by the government authorities or the private sector. Many of the tourist centres around the country lack the necessary services and facilities that could meet the demand of tourists and visitors. While visiting some of these spots sometimes you don't find restaurants, foodstuff shops or even public toilets. This kind of situation has been observed in some public parks and in beautiful valleys which are very often visited by citizens and residents as well as foreign tourists.
How can you encourage people to visit such tourist destinations and enjoy the beauty of nature when there are no proper facilities provided? What kind of impression will a tourist or a visitor carry with him when he sees a tourist attraction in an abandoned condition where neither the place nor people are given importance? Definitely, such conditions will make an average tourist think twice before visiting any tourist spot in the country, especially those outside the city or where no modern life facilities are available. Can you imagine visiting a famous beautiful wadi in one of the wilayats and there are no shaded places available for visitors or families to rest in?
I believe in the case of such tourist destinations in the different wilayats around the country, it is the responsibility of regional municipalities to beautify the places and nicely prepare them for tourists and visitors as well as maintain the public cleanliness. There should be a shared responsibility between the government bodies to promote tourism.
The private sector also should contribute in developing the tourism sector and shoulder the burden with the government. Otherwise the only one-man-show-policy will result in the development process of this important sector being further delayed. Companies or local investors in co-operation with the municipal authorities, can invest in improving the tourist centres. They can build entertainment facilities, restaurants, mobile food stalls and other required services. Children’s playgrounds and recreation equipment could be offered as well to encourage families to visit these places.
The mutual co-operation between the government and private parties will go a long way to help develop the tourism sector in the Sultanate. Accordingly, business and job opportunities could be offered for private investors and Omani job-seekers. Incentives can also be granted to start SMEs that can initiate the process of setting up a tourist place. Many Omanis have established private local resorts and night camps offering distinguished services for tourists in different places.
Today, the Sultanate has emerged as a remarkable tourism destination worldwide, as it has won numerous international awards and placed itself on the world map as an authentic Arabian destination. Therefore, collective efforts should be supported in a bid to share the contribution and responsibility to develop the tourism sector in the Sultanate.
In fact, tourism is a most important industry nowadays to help strengthen national economy of countries as it contribute also in increasing the national income. It could be also a rich source for job opportunities, especially for the youth. Thus, strategic plans should be set up to achieve sustainable development in this sector.