Oman is Infrastructure-Ready to Host MICE

An ideal destination for weddings, Oman plans to focus on MICE and expects over 10 per cent growth in tourist arrivals from India in 2018.


OMAN AS the tourist destination among Indian travellers conducted the first leg of the multi-city roadshow in New Delhi last week.

Present at the occasion Maitha Saif Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism said, “We recognise and acknowledge the demand we see from India and other potential market. Hence, as part of the Sultanate’s National Tourism strategy 2040, the Ministry of Tourism seeks to introduce the sector’s latest developments, services, projects and facilities of the tourism industry.” The country is a safe destination and looking to tap independent travellers and groups especially women, she added.

Since 2014, Oman has witnessed over 31 per cent growth in Indian arrivals. In 2017, the country received 321,161 Indian visitors, therefore, showcasing the growth of over 7 per cent in a year. The country is also extensively focusing on the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) segment and has recently launch Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre in its capital city Muscat. “The national carrier, Oman Air is connected via 161 direct flights every week from 11 cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Lucknow, Kozhikode, Kochi, Goa, Jaipur and Thirvananthapuram. Also, Air India, SpiceJet and Indigo are well connected from the Indian cities,” said Sunil VA, Regional Vice-President – Indian sub-continent, Oman Air. The airline is in talks with the government to extend direct connectivity to Ahmedabad and Kolkata as well. Speaking about the airfare, he informed that Oman Air starts at around Rs 18,000 (economy) and Rs 35-40000 (business class, based on the market).

Oman is expecting over 10 per cent growth in tourist arrivals from India this year and is planning to focus on promoting MICE segment. “We have been growing steadily since 2013. This year, we are expecting a double-digit growth of over 10 per cent on the back of focused marketing, tying up with more trade partners and more visibility,” informed Lubaina Sheerazi, India Representative, Ministry of Tourism, Oman who also highlighted the fact that Oman has simplified the visa process, which is expected to boost the growth.

Oman has been focusing more on leisure and family segment, and is now planning to tap the huge MICE segment in India. “We are infrastructure-ready to host MICE with the recent launch of the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre in Muscat, which supports international and local organisations in hosting large events,” she said. The country is not only seeing a surge in MICE travel, but is also a preferred wedding destination for many, according to Sheerazi.

“Being less than three hours away from India and having good air connectivity with 11 Indian cities have made Oman a preferred wedding destination for Indians. Simple visa access is also boosting the destination wedding segment. The picture perfect backdrops in Oman offer ideal location for pre-wedding photo-shoot and video shoot,” she said. Positioned as an inspirational destination, Oman is targeting niche and well-travelled people over 24 years, said added.

Sheerazi added, “The tourism brands understand and identified this potential very well and as a segment we recognize this in its own right and hence closely interact with wedding planners. This market is growing at 20-25% -- excellent air-connectivity, short flying time, simplified visa to get to Oman, a variety of cuisines especially the Indian food – are a few factors that make it a destination that caters to the need of an Indian family.”

Muscat International Airport, the state-of-the-art airport, is a brand new airport currently in operation. On completion of the first phase, it has upped its capacity to 23 million from last year’s 12 million. The airport will be further upgraded in three consecutive phases and eventually take it to 24, 36 and 48 million passengers. “It has all the luxury and comfort desired at an airport – world class hotel to transit, great dining options, shopping outlets and is definitely going to increase passenger arrivals in the country significantly,” added Sheerazi.

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