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Anantara Salalah helps boost Oman's economic diversification.

by Gautam Viswanathan/ [emailprotected] Anantara Salalah is frequented by visitors from several parts of the globe throughout the year.

Muscat: Anantara's resort in Salalah may have welcomed 60,000 guests during its first year of operations in the Dhofar region, but that hasn't caused General Manager James Hewitson to rest on his laurels. "We had about 35,000 room guests who would stay with us for more than a day, for up to around a week or 10 days or even more, as well as about 25,000 visitors, who joined us to spend a day at Anantara Salalah, either to have breakfast, lunch or dinner with their families and friends, or to enjoy our recreational facilities in the resort, so we've proved to be popular," he said, in an exclusive interview with the Times of Oman. "Transforming a luxury resort into a destination where there hasn't been one to bring a different tourist to Salalah has really been the highlight of the past year," added Hewitson. "We've had Royal Family members, heads of state, and top-end people, such as celebrities and sports personalities as well, and bringing these people to Salalah really helps open up the destination. People who had previously lived in the region, but could never come to Salalah because there wasn't such a property are now realising that there is a luxury property for them, so they come down for a week or two weeks to see what Salalah is all about." Anantara Salalah's prominence means it is frequented by visitors from several parts of the globe throughout the year, even if the reasons for their visits may vary. "If we talk about winters, we've got primarily European visitors coming in on holiday for a long stay," revealed Hewitson. "It's mostly European guests who stay for about 10 days to two weeks to escape the cold winter in Europe. The European market is strong because it is cold there and there are people looking to travel." "We've gotten enquiries from Russia for this coming season, so that represents new business for us," he added. "In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Kuwait was a very strong source of business, outside of the Khareef season and visits from the rest of the GCC and Oman have been quite strong too. In August, we saw a big pickup in Qatari business, and that was actually the major source of tourists from us during August." Hewitson emphasised that Anantara Salalah was working very closely with the government of Oman to identify new sources for tourists, as the nation embarks on its ambitious plans to diversify its economy as part of its Tanfeedh initiative. "It's about attracting all the strong destinations which look to us for outbound tourism, and we support the government's efforts on visas to attract the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) market, as well as India, Iran and China, because this will only help us expose ourselves to these markets as well, maximising the demand for a luxury beach destination." "The fact that we have two Anantara properties opening in Oman has really put this country on the map, because it makes people sit up and take notice," added Hewitson. "One's in Jabal Akhdar and the other one is by the beach so you are really emphasising the Omani heritage and culture here." And Salalah's claim to fame being that it was the nexus of the historic frankincense trade is one that continues to draw lovers of history, nature and culture from far and wide. "We're on the same plot of land as the Al Baleed archaeological site, which was the hub of frankincense trade in this part of the world, and the Frankincense museum, so every guest staying with us gets access to these sites, as well as those of Samharan, Wadi Dawka and the lost city of Ubhar," explained Hewitson. "We work very closely with the museum so our guests understand the frankincense trail, and we also incorporate this theme into the resort. Oman has all the raw materials to become a great tourist destination, and we just need to keep moving forward and developing it," he added.

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Sep 6, 2017
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