Salalah witnessed an increase of 33.5 percent in the number of visitors this summer compared with the same period last year, according to figures released by Oman’s National Centre for Statistics and Information.
At the end of August, the figures stood at 796,854, compared with 596,876 in 2017.
The Dhofar Governorate is famous for its summer “Khareef” season, when its geographical location means that it feels the effects of the Indian monsoon. This results in lush greenery, light rains and temperatures that rarely rise above 27 degrees Celsius. During this time, it is frequented by many visitors, especially from within Oman and the neighbouring countries.
Salalah Tourism Festival takes place from July 15 to August 31 every year. The festival is part of Khareef that extends from the end of July until the beginning of September.
Gulf citizens including Omanis accounted for 91.1 per cent of the total visitors up to the tenth week followed by visitors from Asian countries who numbered 45,601, while the number of visitors from European countries stood at 3,277.
The influx of guests has boosted already healthy hotel occupancy in the governate. Hossam Kamal, general manager of the Salalah Rotana Resort told Arabian Business: “We have witnessed an increase in guest arrivals by 21.3 percent compared to the same period last year, mainly due to the early start of the rains and increased flight frequency from airlines such as Oman Air.’’
Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara also witnessed strong growth. General manager James Hewitson said the hotel had also posted strong growth: “We have seen a good growth over last year with this summer producing 35 percent growth over 2017.”
The successful season comes just weeks after Cyclone Mekunu battered Salalah in late May. The city received the equivalent of five years' rain in the four days, leaving at least three people dead.
Hewitson told Arabian Business: “The clean-up operation has been a great community effort. The Dhofar Municipality has been extremely fast and well-coordinated since the cyclone struck and this has really helped tourists enjoy the strong Khareef season as all services and roads have been repaired and all tourist spots open to the public.”
The Dhofar Governorate, which forms the Sultanate’s southern part, includes a distinctive natural bio-diversity, with coasts and mountains rising to a height of 1,500 metres and then descending into a flat plain that embraces sandy beaches stretching for hundreds of kilometres.
There are daily flights between Muscat and Salalah, as well as other Arab Gulf states.