Though Salalah Tourism Festival in Oman officially concluded on Saturday, due to the continuing pleasant weather, the festival has not ended completely. There are some activities that are still going on till September 5. They include children’s rides, popular shopping tents, folk dances and food outlets.
Salalah is the capital city of southern Oman’s Dhofar province. It’s known for its banana plantations, Arabian Sea beaches and waters teeming with sea life. The Khareef, an annual monsoon, transforms the desert terrain into a lush, green landscape and creates seasonal waterfalls. The Frankincense Land Museum, part of the Al Balid Archaeological Site, recounts the city’s maritime history and role in the spice trade.
Salalah received 756,554 visitors during the khareef season this year. According to the National Centre of Statistics and Information for Oman (NCSI), this is a growth of 29 per cent as compared to the same period last year. Salalah and its surrounding areas received 519,616 visitors last year during the season.
Many visitors frequent the Dhofar region in general and Salalah in particular during khareef to witness the lush greenery and the hills cloaked in mist and fog. This year, 72 per cent of the visitors were Omanis, while 9.6 per cent were from the UAE and 9.4 per cent were from other GCC countries.
According to Mashali, the festival grounds attracted 3.5mn visitors during the 47 days of this year’s festival. Though 4mn visitors were recorded last year, the festival ran for 63 days in 2017.
Hoteliers in Salalah said they were lucky to have this number of visitors despite Cyclone Mekunu which hit Dhofar before the khareef season. Carlota Alvaro, assistant sales director at Orascom Hotels Management which manages Juweira Boutique Hotel and Fanar Hotel and Residences in Salalah, said both properties saw between 90 to 95 per cent occupancy during the season.
“We are glad we did so well this year as compared to last year. The success this year has been due to the nice weather. Cyclone Mekunu caused more rains that led to more waterfalls and greenery all over Dhofar,” she said.
“Even though Salalah Tourism Festival has concluded, we expect more visitors till September because the weather is still so nice,” Carlota added.
Anurag Mathur, assistant general manager – Shanfari group of hotels which runs Haffa House Salalah and Samharam Tourist Village in Dhofar, said, “Despite Mekunu which led to some visitors from neighboring countries such as Saudi Arabia cancelling their bookings, we managed to get more visitors from within Oman. Overall, business was good and better than last season. We were happy to host many visitors at our properties and this year was much better than last year,” he said.