Oman is witnessing the emergence of a more discerning tourist, travellers who are looking for offbeat locations to get the local, unique real-life experience – hyperlocal experience – a market estimated at $140 billion globally, said an industry expert.
According to Taleb Al Makhmari, director general of Marketing and Media at Ithraa – a leading investment and export development agency, these tourists are after genuine, holiday experiences that are memorable. “This demand for hyperlocal experiences is clearly on the rise. Whether it’s climbing Jebel Akhdar, crossing Rub’ al Khali, windsurfing off Masirah, relaxing on a Salalah beach or shopping in Nizwa souq, tourists want an authentic experience.”
“There’s plenty of scope for local businesses, particularly tourism start-ups to tap into the hyperlocal trend,” he explained.
Tourism is a major engine for job creation and a driving force for Oman’s economic growth and development and the topic of discussion at Ithraa’s Inside Stories taking place on April 26 at the Public Authority for Civil Aviation in Al Hail North.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council data, in 2015 tourism directly created over 107 million jobs and supported directly and indirectly a total of 284 million jobs, equivalent to one in 11 jobs in the world. By 2026, these figures are expected to increase to 136 and 370 million jobs respectively representing one in nine of all jobs worldwide.
“Most people associate tourism with hourly jobs in the service sector and there’s no doubt that tourism is accountable for thousands of jobs across Oman. But what’s often overlooked are the management jobs that are a part of the sultanate’s growing tourism industry,” remarked Al Makhmari.
Beyond the direct employment within businesses that serve tourists, the impact of tourism spreads well beyond the traditional definition of tourism. Many industries exist to support firms within the tourism industry from advertising agencies, accounting firms, florists to local farmers. Oman’s small businesses, particularly those working in the creative industries space, can certainly play a role in helping tourists realize their expectations, as well as supporting the local hotels they stay in and the airlines they travel on.
Inside Stories is sponsored by BP and supported by Al Mouj Muscat and the Public Authority for Civil Aviation. The panel will be moderated by Sayyid Dr. Adham Al Said, associate professor, Sultan Qaboos University and includes Khalid Al Haribi, deputy CEO Operations, Riyada; Gillian Taylor, director, Business Development, Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre; Mazen Khoury, investment director, Tourism & Culture, Oman Investment Fund; and Eric Walters, director, Hud Hud Travels.
– Trade Arabia