More than 56,950 watch tur­tles in 11 months

Muscat Daily - - NATION -

Over 56,950 peo­ple vis­ited Ras al Jinz Tur­tle Re­serve in the wi­layat of Sur be­tween Jan­uary and Novem­ber this year. Of these 38,744 were for­eign­ers and 18,213 Oma­nis.

Oman is home to sev­eral im­por­tant nest­ing sites for four dif­fer­ent species of tur­tle: the en­dan­gered Green Tur­tle, the Olive Ri­d­ley Tur­tle, the Log­ger­head Tur­tle, and the crit­i­cally en­dan­gered Hawks­bill Tur­tle.

High­light­ing the pop­u­lar­ity of the re­serve among both Oma­nis and for­eign­ers, Saud bin Ha­mad al Alawi, director of Tourism in South Shar­qiyah gov­er­norate, said that the tur­tle re­serve is a na­tional trea­sure and one that is cher­ished by the sul­tanate.

“For­eign tourists to the area in­clude Arabs as well. They en­joy tur­tle watch­ing and the tran­quil­ity of the area,” said Alawi.

Es­tab­lished by the Royal De­cree in 1996, the Ras al Jinz Tur­tle Re­serve is one of Oman’s best sus­tain­able tourist des­ti­na­tion which of­fers visi­tors a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence na­ture in all its glory.

Vi­jay Handa, re­gional director, Ras al Jinz Tur­tle Re­serve, the des­ti­na­tion is an ex­pe­ri­ence that is not-to-be-missed.

“There is a con­tin­u­ous growth in the num­ber of visi­tors to the area. Sim­i­larly, the num­ber of tur­tles is also in­creas­ing an­nu­ally. In the re­serve, we are well pre­pared for the tourist sea­son,” said Handa.

He added, “We are see­ing an in­crease in the num­ber of visi­tors since last week of Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber. We ex­pect an in­crease of eight to nine per cent in the num­ber of visi­tors this sea­son, com­pared to the same pe­riod last year,” he said.

Watch­ing tur­tles is one of the most im­por­tant eco-tourism ac­tiv­i­ties in the sul­tanate. Tour or­gan­is­ers ad­vise visi­tors to watch nest­ing with calm­ness and com­pas­sion and not cause fear or in­con­ve­nience to the tur­tles. There is also an interactiv­e mu­seum in the re­serve.

Shows and ac­tiv­i­ties

Ac­cord­ing to Nasir al Ghailani, director gen­eral of the re­serve, visi­tors can en­joy a host of ac­tiv­i­ties this year.

He said that the re­serve is also plan­ning to of­fer stay op­tions in the next two years. “Oman Tourism Devel­op­ment Com­pany will an­nounce the de­tails at an ap­pro­pri­ate time. Tur­tle nest­ing sea­son be­gins in

May,” he said.

He said that the devel­op­ment of the re­serve in­cludes ad­di­tion of three lux­u­ri­ous en­vi­ron­ment­friendly camps, depart­ment of cruises to watch dol­phins, div­ing with sea tur­tles, fish­ing and vis­it­ing a cit­i­zen’s home to fa­mil­iarise visi­tors with the cus­toms and tra­di­tions of Oman.

Khamis bin Ab­dul­lah bin Khamis al Amiri, a tourist guide, said, “I have been work­ing for about ten years in the re­serve as a tour guide. We take around groups of 25 and an­swer their ques­tions re­gard­ing nest­ing of tur­tles. We also cau­tion tourists against dis­turb­ing the tur­tles.”

Hisham bin Khal­ifa al Matani of the Tourist Guid­ance Depart­ment at the Ras Al Jinz Sci­en­tific Cen­tre, too said, the guides play an im­por­tant role in main­tain­ing the sanc­tity of the re­serve and en­ter­tain­ing the guests. “The es­ti­mated dis­tance to and from the beach is about 900m. We pro­vide visi­tors with all the in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the Ras al Jinz Sci­en­tific Cen­tre, its ef­forts and de­tails.”

Sul­tanate is home to four dif­fer­ent species of tur­tles, the en­dan­gered Green Tur­tle, the Olive Ri­d­ley Tur­tle, the Log­ger­head Tur­tle, and the crit­i­cally en­dan­gered Hawks­bill Tur­tle

(Sup­plied pho­tos)

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