Time to encourage sustainable tourism in Oman
September 28, 2011
MUSCAT: Sustainable tourism practices must be encouraged in the Sultanate, an expert on sustainable tourism has urged the country’s authorities, while making a presentation titled ‘A Journey in the World of Tourism’ to mark the World Tourism Day, at the GUtech Airport Campus auditorium.
Dr Heba Aziz, Head of the Department of Sustainable Tourism and Regional Development at GUtech, asserted that sustainable tourism is “the need of the hour”.
The Arab Spring, she said, has made places in the Arab world more affordable as far as tourism is concerned. “The North African region saw a decline by 13 per cent this year as compared to last year while Middle East showed a dip of 11 per cent. Dubai, Turkey and Greece have been the main beneficiaries of the Arab Spring,” she noted.
Talking of Oman, she said the Sultanate benefited due to factors like stable economy. The total number of tourists visiting Oman in 2009 was 1.6 million with a slight decline as compared to 2008.
On the international tourism scene, Heba said, “International tourist arrivals rebounded strongly and is estimated to have grown by 4.5 per cent in the first half of 2011, consolidating the 6.6 per cent increase registered in 2010. Between January and June this year, the total number of arrivals reached 440 million, 19 million more than in the same period of 2010.”
Heba highlighted two winning pictures of the 2011 World Tourism Day (WTD) competitions featuring Korean women celebrating India’s Holi festival and a young tourist backstage at the Chinese Opera Theatre, saying they reflected the 2011 theme of ‘Tourism — Linking Cultures’.
Heba said people travel to different countries to experience their cultures and thus tourism encompasses cultural dimensions as well.
“Souqs in the Middle East are the best examples of experiencing live culture of the country and Oman’s Muttrah souq is a fascinating melting pot of cultures,” she explained.