Would you fancy a holiday in Oman? You might, after watching this BBC video that tells us all about how the country is trying to boost the tourism industry.
Watch the video and answer the questions below about it.
The activity is suitable for intermediate students.
1 What does 'one million a year' refer to?
2 What will be completed by 2014?
3 What does 'five million' refer to?
4 What's the main problem for tourism in Oman and its capital Muscat at the moment?
5 What does '30%' refer to?
6 What's the main advantage of attracting tourists in the luxury top market?
7 What type of tourism does neighbouring Dubai appeal to?
8 What is the main asset of Oman for tourism?
9 What might the real difficulties be for the Omani tourist industry plans?
To check your answers you can read the transcript below.
Oman in the 1970’s. After years of isolation, ruler Sultan Qaboos slowly opens up the country to foreign visitors. There are few hotels. Visas are hard to come by. Tourism, an unfamiliar concept. But wind the clock forward forty years and the modern image Oman would prefer to project. Everywhere you look, huge investment in infrastructure and leisure facilities, part of the big push by the Omani government to increase the number of visitors to more than one million a year.
And at the center of the plan this, the new terminal at Muscat International Airport, due to be completed by 2014, music to the ears of Oman Air’s chief executive Wayne Pierce.
The capacity goes up to 12 million people in that one building alone. Besides the terminal, there is a second runway that’s going to open and that gives us greater durability and ease of landing and take-off. So I’ve been focused and it’s evident throughout advertising our regional branding is to attract tourism to Oman and facilitate people travelling in and out of the country. So far 5 million this year we are aiming to maintain a growth rate of 10% plus.
But here’s the crunch. Oman, and in particular its capital Muscat, has had a reputation for limited and overpriced hotel offering, who with new developments like the Kempinski and the Sundus Rotana soon to open, it's estimated the number of rooms in the Muscat area will double to nearly 8,000 in the next seven years. Developers are clearly optimistic.
The return we envisage is not less than 16, 17% on investment. In the last two years I’ve… there’ve an increase of something like 30% of tourists into Oman, because people are getting to know more and more of the sultanate. Europe, Europeans are more than 30% of the tourists that come to Oman and they are increasing.
But does a tourism-heavy strategy leave the country exposed to the twists and turns of the world economy? Not so, according to the manager of the high-end Chevy Hotel.
You always have people or… clients who have the money to travel. It doesn’t really matter if there is a recession or not and I think if you are in the luxury top market… level, then you get less affected than if you look for more say two- three star tourism. The market is so small at the moment that there is still space for improvement. We’re not gambling into a stage where it’s going to be an oversupply of hotel rooms. That will take another 10, 15 years.
But what about the demands? Will then holiday-makers choose Oman when neighbouring Dubai is already attracting 12 million visitors a year with a family-friendly offering?
Oman has quite a special asset in terms of its delayed development behind Dubai, and certainly noting and learning from the lessons that should be, that have been learnt in the Dubai markets. I think the wider geography of Oman is a real asset to the tourism opportunity and I think there is a real attraction towards niche tourism coming into the market, which is a discerning tourist, which can also complement what is going on four or five hours away across the border in Dubai.
So Oman must play to its strengths, but with an unstable security situation in neighbouring Yemen and ongoing political unrest in Egypt, realizing a successful economy based on tourism may well hinge on external factors despite the best laid plans.