A record number of new properties will be added to Oman's accommodation offerings in 2011 while construction of nationally significant attractions remains on track. The new resorts and hotels are a welcome arrival as demand during peak times can exceed supply. Although various five star properties are schedule to be opened, the majority of these new developments are in the mid to budget hotel range where the demand is strong. Unlike most cities in the region, Oman hotels are seen more of a base for touring rather than a destination in themselves.
Mona Tannous, Country Manager for Oman Tourism in Australia and New Zealand said "We are especially delighted to have beautiful niche properties such as the Sifawy Boutique Hotel at Jebel Sifah (opens June 2011) and the locally run Sahab Hotel at Jabal Akhdar because they are quality Oman product in 5 star natural settings. A trip to Oman is about immersing one's self in the destination by touring the country rather than staying in a Muscat hotel, therefore regional projects like these and the Millennium Hotel at Mussanah are at the heart of our tourism strategy to increase the level of accommodation standards throughout Oman" said Ms Tannous.
The Sifawy Hotel is the first of five hotels planned for Muriya¡¯s Jebel Sifah resort, a 45 minute drive east of Muscat. The hotel also offers a water link from Muscat right to the door using Ocean Blue International¡¯s 75¡¯ catamaran Azzura. The Sahab Hotel and The View are located in the Hajar Mountains about two hours drive from Muscat. With the high altitudes, abundance of water, terrace farming and old historical villages, the area is fast becoming increasingly popular for short-breaks from Muscat as well as destinations in their own right.
Much of the accommodation growth will be in and around Muscat. Adding to several boutique properties like the Platinum and Rotana Hotels that opened late last year, 2011 began with the opening of the City Seasons Hotel Muscat (268 four star rooms, three restaurants and three banquette halls), and the Golden Tulip Inn (153 rooms). This year will also see the opening of several mid-range and budget hotels like the Swiss-Belhotel in Muscat¡¯s cultural and sports district.
Oman¡¯s Royal Opera House , a stunning marble structure that is destined to become an iconic building for Oman and a world-class venue for performing arts, is also due for completion in late 2011. The Royal Opera House will soon release its program of performances leading up to its official opening.
April 2011 also saw Oman¡¯s National Ferry Company services between Muscat and Khasab become fully operational with services being able to take over 200 passengers and 56 cars. The ferries are the world¡¯s fastest diesel powered craft and have a cruise speed of around 80km per hour. The company also commences passenger service between Shinas and Khasab from late May.
Meanwhile construction on Oman¡¯s Convention and Exhibition Centre being managed by the development body, OMRAN, is on track for opening in late 2013. The Centre includes 3,000 seat plenary, exhibition space of 25,000m2 and a total of 1000 rooms over four hotels.
"The Centre will give Oman the opportunity to bid for regional and international events as never before, and entice more tourists to discover Oman through pre and post tours." said Ms Tannous