Towards facilitating a proper assessment of the impact of tourism in the Sultanate’s economy, the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) has published a bulletin showing the Sultanate’s tourism indicators over the period 2005 – 2014.
Despite instability in some regions, the Middle East saw a 4% rise in visitors in 2014, attracting 2 million additional travelers taking the total visitors to 50 million, the report said in its introduction.
Inbound visitors to the Sultanate have doubled over the decade 2005-2014 while domestic tourists more than tripled. If Oman is to increase tourism’s contribution to the GDP, it must actively seek to attract more inbound tourists and from more diverse markets. Given the current geopolitical climate, the Sultanate must not only market itself as a safe and tranquil destination, but also compete with other GCC states that are looking to boost their own share of tourism revenues, the NCSI bulletin noted.
The number of inbound tourists visiting the Sultanate has grown by around 40% every half decade. The total number of visitors stood at 1.1 million in 2005, 1.5 million in 2010 and 2.1 million in 2014. As for the reasons for travelling, visiting friends and relatives was the major one at 38.7%, followed by leisure and recreation, which accounted for 34.3% while 18.7% visited Oman for business purposes.
The relative share of inbound tourism in the leisure and recreation segment has been stagnant for the past four years ended 2014 at around 34%, which is down from 47% logged in 2010.
The total number of same-day visitors increased by 9% to 578,876 visitors in 2014 compared with prior year, but exhibited less growth than the period between 2012 and 2013, exhibiting a 12% rise from 472,805 visitors to 531,096 visitors.
In the period 2011-2012, the rise was even higher at 26%, with figures increasing from 374,658 to 472,805. Since 2005, the total number of inbound tourists has been growing by an average 7.4%.
Inbound tourism expenditure reached RO 250.9 million in 2014, marking a 10.4% increase over RO 227.3 million in 2013 while the average expenditure per visitor rose to RO 119.6 in 2014, logging a significant growth of 31% compared to 2009 when total expenditure per visitor stood at RO 91.10.
Around 72.4% of all visitors stayed more than one night, with the remaining 27.6% being same-day visitors. Other GCC nationals accounted for the majority of visitors at 45.8%, followed by visitors from Asian countries at 22.6%, and those from Europe at 19.2%. Arab nationals made up 6.2% while visitors from other nations had a share of 6.2%, mostly the Americas and Oceanians. Overnight stays totalled 11.3 million nights, with an average of 7.4 nights per tourist.
Hotel and hotel apartments served 46.6% of all overnight tourists while 36.4% of arrivals stayed with relatives or friends. Furnished flats accounted for 4%. Out of the 2.1 million visitors in 2014, as many as 1.3 million visitors, or 62.3% were males and 0.8 million, or 37.7%, were females.
However, the share of the tourism industry in Oman’s GDP diminished to 2.2% in 2014 from 2.3% in 2005.
Overnight visitors surged from 891 to 1,519, even as average nights spent by visitors increased from 5.0 to 7.4 during the same period. The total number of nights spent by the tourists went up from 4.41 million in 2005 to 11.28 million in 2014. Same-day visitors on the other hand numbered 579 in 2014 as against 211 in 2005.
Meanwhile, the Sultanate saw an increase in outbound visitors over the period, from over 2.49 million visitors to 4.72 million visitors. Among them same-day visitors numbered nearly 1.37 million in 2014 as against 478,000 logged in 2005. Further, while an outbound tourist spend on average RO 115.4 in 2005, the amount declined to RO 87.7 by 2014. Total outbound tourism expenditure registered a significant growth to reach RO 414.4 million as against RO 287.9 million in 2005.
Domestic tourism expenditure on the other hand increased to RO 971.1 million from RO 291.5 million in 2005.
The number of hotels increased over the period to 287 from 161 while hotel rooms surged to 14,862 from 8,132. Hotel revenues rose to RO 216.5 million from RO 78.1 million while hotel guests increased from 1.4 million to 2.4 million over the period. Occupancy rate however showed not much growth with average occupancy in 2005 and 2014 standing at 47% and 49.2% respectively.