The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) on Sunday signed an agreement to transfer five projects to Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran) as a first stage.
The agreement was signed by H E Maitha bint Saif al Mahrouqiyah, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Tourism, and Peter Walichnowsk, CEO of Omran.
Abdullah bin Salim al Hajri, assistant director general for Administrative Affairs in MoT, said the agreement is related to separating the legislative and executive aspects of the tourism sector. Thus, the ministry will be in charge of developing the legislation and systems that regularise the sector while Omran will be in charge of implementing the projects.
The projects turned over to Omran are Al Hoota Cave in the Governorate of Dakhliyah, Scientific Centre in Ras al Jinz, Al Ashkharah Rest Area in the Governorate of South Sharqiyah, Al Uwaifiyah Rest Area in the Governorate of Dakhliyah and Salalah Rest Area in the Governorate of Dhofar.
Hajri said the agreement, which will be implemented from January 1, is the first phase of the projects that will be transferred from MoT to Omran.
The second package includes a number of castles and forts.
The transfer of Nizwa Castle to Omran has already been initiated in coordination between MoT and the Ministry of Heritage and Culture.
Omran has transferred the castle to Bawader, a local company in the wilayat of Nizwa. The move comes in a bid by the government to give private and local companies the opportunity to be involved in the management of castles and forts.
Hajri also pointed out that the transfer of assets to Omran aims at increasing the value of its shares at the local market and allow Omran to negotiate with many local and foreign investors with interest to invest in the tourism sector in the sultanate.
“The ministry has signed a number of agreements with investors to build integrated tourism complexes that can add value to the national economy, increase the number of hotel rooms and create fresh job opportunities,” he added.
Eng Khalid bin Mohammed al Ajmi, director of Projects and Business Developments at Omran, said that as per the agreement, the company will develop the projects and will involve SMEs in their management and operation. He pointed out that the company will evaluate the assets of the projects that were transferred and then will offer them for investment by the private sector, especially in the same governorate where the project is located, to ensure sustainable development of tourism in all governorates and to activate domestic tourism.
The tenders for expression of interest for companies that have been qualified may be floated by the end of the first quarter of 2018. The bids will be then evaluated and agreements will be signed.