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OMAN - Tourism

Shabib Al Maamari

Managing Director, Visit Oman

Bio

Prior to joining Visit Oman, Shabib Al Maamari was a group chief, for sector development and promotion, at Oman Aviation Group and a board member of Transom. Prior to joining Oman Aviation Group, Al Maamari was the communications and external affairs manager at BP Oman and a member of the leadership team in charge of operations. Before joining BP Oman, he held the role of executive director at Injaz Oman. He also held the role of researcher (finance department) at the Diwan Royal Court of Oman, bringing his experience from the Ministry of Manpower where he held the role of economical researcher. Al Maamari holds a bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Missouri in the US.

"In 2021, we worked on establishing the digital B2B platform aimed at digitalizing the nation’s entire supply chain concerning travel and tourism."
Visit Oman is poised to connect the world to Oman’s sights and attractions, while bringing the local Omani travel and tourism sector to new heights.
Visit Oman is the first authorized national online booking and information getaway for Oman’s travel trade sector. Can you provide an overview of your operation and the latest developments?

In 2021, we worked on establishing the digital B2B platform aimed at digitalizing the nation’s entire supply chain concerning travel and tourism. We linked all the airlines capable of bringing tourists to Oman, the accommodation that fit our quality assurance criteria, suppliers, tour operators, DMCs, service providers, and F&Bs, namely everything a tourist requires, and all on one state-of-the-art booking platform that makes it easy for international trade partners and buyers to book online on behalf of their customers. We have over 100 accommodations and over 200 experience locations they can choose from: hiking, renting horses, custom-made camps, and tailored-made experiences. Around 90% of our suppliers are local SMEs, and the reason is that these individuals cannot collaborate with large tour operators. For example, one of the largest tour operators in Europe engages in high-end services with over 51 million loyal customers that it reaches with last-minute deals and packages. We are in conversation to determine what it requires to advertise Oman. With this platform, we provide over 250 SMEs that they can choose from. With digitalization and the components available, namely quality assurance, risk management, and business development, we ensure both parties that the suppliers and products, are authentic. The other key component is user experience; every product is live, so there’s no need to email for availability. Despite that, the focus is inbound and pertaining to Oman alone. We are big on ensuring quality. We are currently operational in 24 source markets, including India, GCC countries, and Western Europe, with some noticeable organic growth in Eastern Europe.

What is your assessment of the tourism sector in Oman, and what are the growth possibilities?

In recent times, we have observed gradual growth, compared to the COVID-19 period; however, the developments on an economic level is globally alarming, in terms of the rise in ticket prices. That and the situation in Ukraine mean that insurance for aircraft and travel affects pricing, and we expect this to continue for some months yet. Hopefully, the vacation season will usher in travel. We have a competitive advantage when it comes to our destination, and we can do a better job in terms of marketing. The ministry has agreed to fund a year’s worth of integrated destination marketing campaigns in collaboration with OMRAN, Oman Air, and Oman Airport. That campaign, fully digitalized and highlighting our source market, will intensify over the coming days.

What are the aspirations of Visit Oman for the coming years?

Our main focus is to empower our suppliers and link them with the largest number of tour operators. It would be great to hear a supplier one day say: “I am fully booked for the year.” This is our ultimate goal, alongside expanding into new markets, with well-established DMCs. Meanwhile, we have also performed tremendously well in product development. In this instance, it is a case of supply and demand; we analyze different destinations, gather information and share feedback with the supplier, detailing what each market requires. If a supplier can meet the requirements, we develop the product with quality assurance and hand it over to the tour operator. Everything is linked digitally, from bookings, accommodation, experiences, and airport services to F&B. Another area that we have also looked into is the conservation of animals indigenous to Arabia, such as the Arabian leopard, birds, and snakes. These give us a specialized competitive edge compared to other destinations. There is also the beach, fishing, mountains, and diving to enjoy here.

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