Oman’s big draw-Salalah Tourism Festival
OMAN Tourism has been actively promoting the country throughout the Gulf, and most recently it showcased its summer marketing activities in Bahrain at the Bahrain International Travel Expo 2008.
Its stand featured Salalah and a branded 4x4 vehicle which has been used extensively for promotional purposes.
Mark Senior, director of Oman Tourism’s office in the GCC said, “During April and May we drove our branded Land Cruiser around the Gulf, to promote the beauty and diversity of the Sultanate of Oman. During the summer, the Salalah Tourism Festival attracts more than 300,000 visitors to Salalah to experience the cooler, cloudy summer climate with refreshing rains. “
“As our vehicle was driven around Bahrain, local residents could see just how inviting the whole of Oman is,” Senior said. “Besides images of Salalah, our vehicle also portrayed the rugged mountains and rocky deepwater fjords of the north, the spectacular desert landscape of Wahiba Sands, and the lush green mountains which form the back drop to Oman’s vibrant cities.”
Previously known as the Khareef Festival, the Salalah Tourism Festival this year takes place from July 15 to August 31. It marks the commencement of the Khareef season, which is a time in Dhofar when cultural, heritage and entertainment activities are organised. Khareef is an Arabic term used in southern Oman for the south east monsoon that affects the Dhofar province. Towns such as Salalah depend upon the khareef for its water supply.
A big plus for GCC visitors wanting to escape the summer heat, according to Mohammed Al Riyami, marketing co-ordinator GCC for Oman Tourism, is the cool weather at this time of the year, caused by an annual monsoon.
“In June, July and August the area is a sea of green. People from GCC countries do not have to flee overseas to escape the heat – they can – and many do – come here,” he said. The Salalah Tourism Festival takes place at the Municipality Fair Ground, Salalah, from 5pm to 12 midnight.
Throughout last year the Salalah region attracted 370,000 visitors, which also offers nearby historical sites, good weather, springs and cultural experiences.
The Salalah Tourism Festival will be organised by Oman International Trade & Exhibitions (OITE).
Other news from Oman is that the Al Hota cave, the second largest cave in Oman, located in the foothills of the central Hajar mountains in Al Hamra, has been illuminated with coloured lights, a walkway with iron railings and stairs has been built for easy access. There is also a visitor centre with a reception, ticket counter, restaurant, souvenir shop and geological museum.
The cave is estimated to be two million years old and has a 2.7 km tunnel with dozens of ancillary chambers and offshoots from north to south through the flanks of a large mountain. The rocks date back to the cretaceous era between 65 million and 136 million years old. Another outstanding feature in the cave is its subterranean lake, home to unusual species of pink-coloured blind fish.
Oman’s Ras al Jinz Scientific Centre and Museum established by the Ministry of Tourism will be opening its doors in July this year. It is one of the highlights of a tourism development scheme that is being developed in phases at Ras al Hadd in the Sharqiyah region of Oman.
The centre was established primarily to protect the turtles that annually arrive on the beach to nest, as well as to showcase the turtles and the unique marine ecology of eastern coast of Sharqiyah region.
The Ras al Hadd sanctuary consists of a 120 sq km coastal area, and attracts up to 20,000 turtles each year which migrate from as far away as the Red Sea and the East African coast.
Visits to the area will now be restricted, with groups of 12 people only being shown around by a trained, dedicated turtle ranger.