‘Oman Tourism — Gearing up for the future’: A successful event conducted by OFA
MUSCAT: A premium event titled ‘Oman tourism - Gearing up for the future’ was hosted by OFA recently at Kempinski Hotel under the auspices of Maitha Saif Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism. The invitees to this elite event comprised of over hundred executives from private organisations in the tourism sector, as well as the ministers and under-secretaries from ministries.
The event started with a presentation by the four famous French bloggers who had travelled to various destinations in Oman. What they enjoyed most was the untouched natural beauty that Oman had to offer as well as the exotic wild and marine life. Before closing their presentation, they made a heart-touching speech of how vital it is to conserve the environment.
This was then followed by a conference with two panels of discussions moderated by Cyril Piaia, Associate Partner, Stratford & Russell and Board Member of OFA. The first panel focused on how to meet the needs of a growing tourism industry while creating jobs and ensuring the sustainability of Oman’s rich natural and historical heritage. The panellist were Michel Hartbrot, Professor, Ecole Hôtelière de Paris, Robert MacLean, Principal of National Hospitality Institute, Medhi Serrour, Cluster General Manager IBIS Muscat & Mercure Sohar, Khaled Abdul Malak, surgeon and explorer and Badar Al Dhuhli, Tourism Lecturer, Oman Tourism College.
Malak, a specialist of adventure tourism, focused on the need to prepare the people as well as the sites in order to develop sustainable tourism. He stressed on the need to valorise natural assets, while also ensuring that all efforts are made towards its preservation. He pointed out that efforts should be made to set up appropriate signage, ensure that the areas are mapped and the routes marked clearly. MacLean and Al Dhuhli highlighted the need to develop appropriate training and development programmes for the Omani youth to enable them to take the lead in developing the tourism sector. The second panel laid a strong focus on infrastructural development to meet the expectations of tourists. The panel stated that this could be done by leveraging on new technologies. The panellist were Jamal Al Azki, Country Manager, Oman Air, Jonathan Stearns, Partner Mazars, Lujaina Al Kharousi, CEO Envago, Majid Al Whasahahi, CEO, Gate company, Cashio Vettom, General Manager, Khimji House of Travel and Thierry Perrot, Regional General Manager, Intercontinental hotels group Oman. The panellists discussed Oman’s preparedness in terms of infrastructure, tried to understand what was missing and focused on areas that could be further improved.
“The tourism industry over the years has seen remarkable growth and we are proud to say that it does play a critical role in the country’s economic and social growth. Oman indeed takes great pride in the touristic destinations it has to offer; some of them are quite unique and can be found in only select places around the world,” said Maitha Saif Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary of Ministry of Tourism. “While we are encouraging tourism, we also want to make sure that we have the necessary measures in place to preserve our heritage sites. We want to be well-prepared to welcome a larger number of tourists.”