Oman’s tourism rates soar as expat numbers plummet

Europeans still account for the bulk of non-Arab visitors to Oman. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 11 June 2019

Oman’s tourism rates soar as expat numbers plummet

  • The number of hotel guests rose to nearly 200,000, but room rates remained steady
  • While tourism grows, the expat ban has pushed residency figures down

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.

Jubail petrochemical complex could lead to homegrown car industry

Updated 32 sec ago

Jubail petrochemical complex could lead to homegrown car industry

LONDON: Advanced Petrochemical and South Korean SK Gas plan to develop a $1.8bn petrochemical complex in Jubail that could help plans to develop a homegrown car industry in Saudi Arabia.
It comes amid increased economic cooperation between Riyadh and Seoul following an $8.3 billion economic co-operation pact struck this week during the first visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to South Korea.
The Saudi petchem producer said it signed a memorandum of understanding with SK Gas to build a propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene complex. The project is expected to produce “high value plastics grades for the automotive industry” as well as other specialized grades that are currently being imported into Saudi Arabia, Advanced Petrochemical said in a filing to the Tadawul stock exchange on Wednesday.
Separately the company said it has received propane feedstock allocation from the Kingdom’s Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources for the project, which is slated to start in 2024.
Advanced Petrochemical also disclosed in a third filing that it was conducting a feasibility study for a cracker project in the Kingdom.
These latest deals reflect twin objectives to develop high-value manufacturing in the Kingdom to create jobs while also investing heavily in the petrochemicals sector to capitalize on rising global demand for high value plastics.
Saudi Arabia is the largest new automotive sales and auto parts market in the Middle East, accounting for an estimated 40 percent of all vehicles sold in the region, according to the US website.The addition of potentially as many as 3 million women drivers to the roads is expected to further spur domestic demand.
Saudi companies, spearheaded by Saudi Aramco, are investing billions of dollars in petrochemical projects worldwide to meet rising global demand. Petrochemicals are set to account for more than a third of the growth in world oil demand to 2030, and nearly half the growth to 2050, adding nearly 7 million barrels of oil a day by then, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Demand for plastics — the key driver for the petchem industry — has outpaced all other bulk materials (such as steel, aluminum, or cement), nearly doubling since 2000, the IEA estimates.