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OMAN: First Impressions is Key (Part 2)

Contributing to the myriad of highly-anticipated developments positively affecting tourism, while enhancing ever-so-important connectivity to the region, the approaching opening of a new terminal at Muscat International Airport in 2018 and the launch of Salalah International Airport’s new premises in 2015 have both increased expectations.

Observing that business travel to Salalah has improved thanks to upcoming projects in the vicinity, Levonian enthused, “Various developments look set to bolster the [tourism] sector moving forward, with the ongoing expansion of Muscat International Airport a prime example.

A new terminal is currently under construction which will boast an expected capacity to 12 million passengers per annum. […] This will definitely improve the business travel to the destination too.”

Close proximity to the Sultanate’s major hub seems to represent a successful factor for hoteliers.

Martin Cramer, area general manager, Grand Millennium Muscat and Millennium Resorts Mussnah, noted that despite the Muscat property’s newcomer status on the hospitality market, it has followed an upward growth trajectory since its opening in 2016, which is attributed, among others, to its location within the reach of the airport and consequent 95 percent occupation by business guests.

Oman’s gateways play a vital role in creating the right impression of the country’s hospitality and ability to cater for MICE groups.

Acknowledging this, Al Haremi elucidated that Oman Air invites first and business class passengers at Muscat hub to experience luxury and comfort of its state-of-the-art 24 hour lounge, boasting dedicated dining facilities, gender separated prayer and shower rooms, along with a business centre and a spa, among other highlights.

Noting that the services on the ground are the extension of the carrier’s outstanding onboard hospitality, he elaborated that the first class passengers are also able to take advantage of dedicated limousine pick-up service to the aircraft, while the economy passengers also have an option to experience pampering at the Majan Lounge for a modest fee.

Meanwhile, the Salalah gateway appears to follow this trend, positively representing Oman’s increasing attention to business travellers with its Oman Air’s premium lounge reflecting the concepts found in Muscat.

While mentioning that the city continues establishing itself as an undiscovered gem of the region, James Hewitson, general manager, Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara, also disclosed, “Salalah itself is following in line with large undertakings such as the new Salalah International Airport and various new road surface projects.

In addition, the number of direct flights to Salalah is increasing.” He further expanded that the recent addition of Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara [in November 2016] is set to attract a new level of luxury customer to the destination, also benefitting from the resort’s close proximity to the airport.