Oman’s tourism rates soar as expat numbers plummet

Monitoring Desk

DUBAI: The number of foreign tourists visiting Oman in April rose by more than a third compared with the same time last year, according to figures issued by the National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI).

There were 330,685 foreign visitors to Oman in April 2019 – 84,452 more than the same month in the previous year, accounting for a 34.3 percent increase.

The majority of the visitors were GCC nationals – with 152,249 visitors making up 46 percent of the overall number of tourists in April this year, an increase of 41 percent.

There were 155,810 non-Arab nationals visiting from across the world, with the main bulk from Europe – predominantly Germany, the UK, Italy and Spain.

Oman saw 14,000 cruise ship visitors for the same time period – that was 53.7 percent more than the same month in 2018.  

And the number of hotel guests rose by nearly half as much from 134,000 in April 2018 to 199,000 in April, 2019.

While the number of guests staying in Oman’s hotels increased, room rates remained steady year-on-year, although occupancy rates fell slightly from 64.3 percent to 63 percent.

While the report did not attempt to explain the latter, local press have reported an increase in the number of available hotel and hotel apartment rooms across the country.

But while the number of foreign tourists is on the increase, the country’s Omanization project has seen the expat population fall below 2 million for the first time in two years, the NCSI said in a separate report.

The drop means foreign residents now only account for 43 percent of the country’s overall population – the lowest in three years.

The decline in expat numbers is the result of Oman’s ongoing expat visa ban for certain professions and industries aimed at tackling the number of unemployed locals.

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