Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Tourism is planning to develop tourism destinations in Dhofar as part of a vast plan to spend over €12bn to boost tourism.
The Dhofar region is already a well established destination for Middle-Eastern travellers. Over 760,000 travellers visited the region in 2019, of which 30% were foreigners – mostly from the neighbouring UAE. The region’s popularity is due to its mild climate in the summer time.
Facing the Arabian Sea, Dhofar has a highly diversified nature due to its geographical location. Next to sandy beaches along the coast, visitors can enjoy the desert and mountains, some of them reaching a height of 1,500 m. The destination concentrates most of its activity during the monsoon season, corresponding to summer in the Western hemisphere.
From June to September, temperatures do not exceed 27° (compared to over 40° for neighbouring countries or Muscat) with rain turning the area into a green paradise.
However, Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Tourism wants to stretch the season and is planning to enhance the region’s tourism experience for visitors. Last August, Salim Mohammed Al Mahrouqi, Minister of Heritage and Tourism, said that a number of workshops and consultation would be organised shortly to elaborate the details of the plan. Dhofar tourism’s enhancement is part the “Comprehensive Tourism Development Plan” which helps the Sultanate in developing new areas for tourism.
A first Royal Decree was recently signed to establish the Khor Kharfout Archaeological Reserve in Salalah. The decree acknowledges the importance of biodiversity in this area located in Dhofar.
A reserve to observe migratory birds, dolphins and whales
The reserve’s beach along the Arabian Sea, is characterised by a majestic bay which attracts migratory birds, as well as dolphins and whales which frequently visit the shores of Khor Kharfout.
The results of studies and field surveys indicate the presence of 20 types of mammals, 193 types of birds, 20 types of reptiles, 183 types of plants, in addition to hundreds of types of invertebrates.
The Khor Kharfout Archaeological Reserve is the cradle of the frankincense trail. Khor Kharfout was an ancient port for the export of frankincense towards the Indian shores. Along the coast of Salalah, visitors can learn about the legacy of frankincense at the Frankincense Land Museum. The museum gives a comprehensive view of the Sultanate, its various governorates, and its maritime and trading heritage.
In another development, Oman’s Minister of Heritage and Tourism has confirmed that the Dhofar region will have a cable car as a new attraction. It will give tourists a new opportunity to embrace the stunning panoramic landscapes of the area. The minister says the project will be set up in the area of Darbat.
Oman open again to foreign visitors
The decision to boost tourism is timely: Oman has reopened to foreign travellers – the Sultanate has just lifted a ban on visitors coming by road from the UAE. And since September 1st, the country has again opened its gates to fully vaccinated individuals from all over the world.
Arrivals will be required to present a vaccine certificate containing a QR code that states they have received two doses of a vaccine that is approved in Oman. The last dose of the vaccine needs to have been received not less than 14 days before arrival in the Sultanate.