Ramadan will be slightly less difficult for non-Muslim tourists in Oman this year, with the government having lifted its ban on alcohol consumption during the month.
Tourists staying at selected hotels will be permitted to consume alcohol after sunset between 7pm and 2am.
Christopher Pike, general manager of the Radisson SAS Hotel, Muscat, was quoted on tradearabia.com as saying the move – which is happening for the first time – is expected to have a positive impact on business at hotels, since the vast proportion of leisure guests expects to be able to enjoy hard beverages during their vacations.
Certainly, the bottom line can only be positively affected, with additional beverage revenues and an increase in room revenues, with both corporate and leisure guests not being turned away by the lack of choice.
Alain Briere, area director of marketing for Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, was quoted as saying a rise in international meetings taking place at the property is expected, which otherwise would have been held in another country.
Neighbouring Bahrain is unlikely to see its own alcohol-consumption ban lifted during the holy month, however.
Conservative parliamentary blocs began lobbying as early as July to ensure a complete alcohol ban in hotel outlets.
Although the ban was implemented last year, some hotels flouted the rule and a total of eight hotel bars were subsequently shut down during the Eid Al Fitr holiday.
Bahrain’s conservative elements have been pushing for an alcohol-free society throughout the year and see the Ramadan ban as one step towards that.
Whether tourism will be adversely affected by such a move is now being hotly debated within the industry.
By Clark Kelly