The Omani Shura hosted the Minister of Tourism, Ahmed bin Naser Al Mehrazi under the auspices of Shaikh Khalid bin Hilal Al Maawali, Chairman of the Majlis. The minister issued a statement on the policies, programs and mechanisms that would be followed by the ministry in the coming days to promote investment in the tourism sector.
Shaikh Khalid bin Hilal Al Maawali, Chairman of the Majlis Al Shura, said the ministry spent more than RO100 million during the past five years but the contribution of the tourism sector to GDP did not exceed 2.7% in 2010.
Al Mehrazi added that the Ministry of Tourism had recently set up long-term strategy for up to 30 years, which includes all the previous plans. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Tourism, the number of tourists to Oman touched 1,400,000, including a large number of business tourists.
The minister also pointed about the lack of potential in designated areas to accommodate the tourists, as there was no clear vision in the past. He also stressed on the need to assess the tourism sector so as to identify new targets. The minister also affirmed that more land would be withdrawn in the coming period from the investors who do not fulfill their commitments.
The minister said that Salam Yeti project and Shinas Port project are still under study and it will be granted to Al Deyar Company for investment, in which, Al Deyar owns 70% and Omran owns 30%.
About the tourist services, Al Mehrizi said that many tourist establishments are not meeting the required standards and some hotels don't even deserve one-star rating. Al Dahira governorate is the poorest governorate in tourism- related services but more tourist investments will take place in the coming period, the minister said, while adding that the ministry aims to promote internal tourism facilities and will identify the patterns of tourist inflow according to the complementary vision, rather than a competitive one.
Sultan Al Abri, Economic Committee member, posed a question about the Ministry of Tourism building 11 toilets costing more than RO600,000, equivalent to RO54,000 per toilet. Al Mehrazi justified the facilities saying these toilets need expensive maintenance. Hameed Al Nasri, another Shura member, said that urgent measures are needed to stop liquor permits and closure of bars and nightclubs as they cause road accidents.
Al Nasri said that suspicious activities take place in massage parlours and youth camps in some wilayats. The most prominent demands of the Shura members are to reconsider the strategies by the ministry and review the plans.
Times of Oman