From mountaineering to dune bashing in the desert or exploring cave chambers to snorkeling in the colourful coral reefs or camping under the stars or from scrambling through sheer-sided canyons to the more relaxed pursuit of hot air ballooning, Oman is the Middle East’s best kept secret for thrill seekers of adventure tourism.
As endorsed by Lonely Planet, “every encounter in Oman evokes a strong sense of the land”, Oman’s vibrant cultural heritage is deeply intertwined with the gifts of its terrain, and it permeates every travel experience
The Ministry of Heritage and Tourism is working to develop and organise adventure product as one of the fastest growing types of tourism to attract more people to Oman so that they can discover adventure in its efforts to encouraging eco-tourism and sustainable practices.
According to Dawood bin Sulaiman al Rashidi, Director of the Department of Tourism Product Development at the ministry, Oman is blessed by the nature with diverse landscapes for those who seek adventure tourism.
“The ministry, along with its partners, has already chalked out an action plan for development of adventure tourism with focus on several key elements including the organisation and legislative framework”, he said.
Coinciding with the spring season, the Dhofar Governorate will host the first Spartan race in the Wilayat of Salalah, adjacent to Al Dahariz Beach, on October 14. The second will be held in the Governorate of Muscat as part of the Oman World Cup Programme on December 16 and 17.
In this regard, the Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN Group) has partnered with Spartan Arabia to host Spartan Races as part of the Group’s continued efforts to bring some of the world’s most renowned sporting events to the country.
“These races represent the tireless efforts of several parties in developing Oman’s sports tourism sector, which in return contributes to the promotion of various tourist destinations across the country and attracts visitors from both inside and outside Oman. This also further strengthens the tourism sector’s role in achieving the goals of Oman Vision 2040,” said OMRAN Group CEO Hashil bin Obaid al Mahrouqi.
The ministry accords utmost care and attention for adventure tourism due to the increasing growth in exercising these activities in the Sultanate of Oman, he said at a tourism meeting last week.
“All the programmes are in accordance with the ministry’s plan and prospects related to management of risks and safety in exercising various activities of adventure tourism as to ensure safety of all participants and personnel engaged with the adventure tourism”, he said.
Statistics issued by the World Tourism Organization indicate that the global adventure tourism market amounted to $282.1 billion in 2021 and is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 15.2 per cent from 2022 to 2030.
According to Al Rashidi, a cooperation agreement has been signed with the Adventure Training Center of the Royal Army with regard to training in adventure activities especially security and safety.
Ministerial decision 124/2020 specifies the necessity of obtaining the licensee (travel and tourism operators) organising wild adventure activities need to get a licence from the ministry with regard to security and safety requirements after paying the prescribed fees.
The ministry has already funded a number of projects in cooperation with the Omran Group towards developing mountain tracks and mountain bikes in the Musandam Governorate and providing them with information and guidance panels, in addition to mini-oases projects in Wadi Bani Auf in the Wilayat of Rustaq to provide services to visitors of the best valleys in the Sultanate of Oman to practice crossing activity and mountain climbing.
Work is also under way to identify and evaluate natural sites in which adventure activities of all kinds can be practiced, such as mountain hiking, caves, valleys and others related to it, to know the necessary needs for maintenance and service aspects in order to ensure the protection and safety of adventurers and enjoy the passion for adventure in a safe way, with identification of response points.
The ministry has also made arrangements for easy access to those sites, expressing technical opinion on the sites of adventure activities in terms of capacity, and identifying and selecting emergency exits on all approved mountain paths to facilitate the arrival of teams.
Mountain rescue, ambulance, police aviation for emergencies, assessment of potential risks, providing feedback regarding safety and security aspects of mountain trails and adventures or other activities associated with adventure tourism.