Travelling top choice for holidays
By Kabeer Yousuf — MUSCAT: June 27: With a five-day Eid holiday starting from July 5 having been officially announced, both the locals and the expatriates have started chalking out their travel plans. After the news broke out about a three-day holiday combined with a two-day weekend, travel agencies have been inundated with calls. After iftar, the rush was even more. Many tour operators were open till late night to handle the rush. “All our counters were busy handling calls and making bookings since morning,” Sunil Prabhaker, CEO, Travel Group of Travel City and Travel Point, told the Observer. “Our offices were open till late night, answering calls and attending to potential travellers.”
Europe was the first choice of most of them. General Sales Agents (GSAs) confirmed 99 per cent of the enquiries were for European countries. “Immediately after the announcement (holiday), I made 15 new bookings and made changes to the existing bookings,” said Riju Thomas, Senior Travel Consultant at OUA Travel. While a number of expatriates plan to visit their families back home and spend the Eid with them, many Omani families and backpackers plan to visit foreign countries, especially Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.
Many prefer to visit local destinations. For instance, instance, Biju Varghese, a media professional based in Muscat, plans to take his family to Wekan in Batinah region, a tourist hotspot. “I will make it to the romantic Wekan village, which made headlines recently,” said Biju.
Latheef Parakkott, a marketing personnel in the Gulf Air, has already packed his bags to see his wife and children who went home recently. “I will be celebrating Eid with my family back home. I will also be visiting Wekan,” said Latheef.
Mustafa, a public sector employee in Muscat, and Lovel Edathil Balakrishnan, a private sector employee, plan to visit Salalah and enjoy the khareef season, which kicked off recently. “I will fly to Salalah with my family and immerse ourselves in the cool weather there.”
Jamsheer VP and Fathimathul Shihana have different plans altogether. They plans to spend their Eid holidays with their Omani friend. Waleed al Habsi in Musnah, at his farmhouse. “We will visit our Omani friend in Musnah and spend 2-3 days with his family. I have known them for years and we are like a family,” said Jamsheed.
“There have been many enquiries since morning for watching turtles; we are trying to accommodate them through our packages,” said Luz Eanelo, in charge of reservations and front
office at the Turtle Beach Resort, Ras al Hadd.
Bookings are almost full at Wadi Shab Resort too.
“Most of our rooms have been booked. We are getting enquiries not only from Oman, but also from the neighbouring countries,” said Sunil Prabhakar.
The Ministry of Tourism had launched a social media competition during Ramadan to learn more about Oman’s beauty. Three questions are asked on the ministry’s Facebook page about the different tourist destinations in the Sultanate, aimed at increasing interest in domestic tourism. GCC tourists are encouraged to discover the beauty of the Sultanate’s beaches and mountains and to visit the Sultanate this season. “Engaging with the residents of the Sultanate is one of our priorities. Through this competition, we would like to encourage our residents to discover the beautiful attractions in the country and to promote these destinations,” said Haitham al Ghassani, Assistant Director-General of Tourism Promotion for Tourism and Domestic Events.