Leaders Oman: Tourism growth in the Sultanate
Tourism can help Oman to diversify its economy, but care must be taken to preserve the country’s heritage
Delegates at this year’s summit universally agreed that in the face of ongoing oil-price stagnation, Oman must diversify its economy. Many have touted tourism as a potential avenue for growth. With this in mind, panel moderator Bill Smith, partner at Pinsent Masons, asked whether current demand justifies Oman’s hotels pipeline.
“If Oman wants to build hotels, I think there is definitely demand there,” said Simon Chambers, partner at GAJ Architects. “The GDP of Oman is $80bn; the UAE’s is $400bn. Yet both countries are growing at the same rate. I think there is huge potential for [more] hospitality projects in Oman.”
Khalid H Al Mahrooqi, COO of Oosool Development agreed with this assessment, stating: “[In light of] the oil prices, the only thing we can do is open up to investment. Tourism is one of the best investments, and Oman has ample potential.”
But Chambers warned Oman not to lose the qualities that make it appealing to tourists.
“I think there is definitely an appreciation of heritage in Oman. The old parts of Muscat [are] just stunning. [They haven’t] been demolished [and they] must be preserved,” Chambers told the audience.