The sultanate is a fascinating destination. According to a survey by German tour operators ahead of ITB Berlin 2020, organisers praise the lifestyle and culture of a country that does not appeal to mass tourism.
The product managers polled were unanimous in their praise for the warmth and relaxed nature of the Omanis, who in their openness and friendliness towards travellers make them feel welcome and “somehow a little bit at home“, says Jana Hake of SKR Reisen. They all agree that this “place where one can truly relax“, with its “charm of the unknown“, is waiting to be discovered by “anyone keen on experiencing the Orient.“ Since 2012 Oman “has become an absolute bestseller” for SKR. The product manager is convinced that “every visitor is simply spellbound by the country.“
A completely different world – one with many facets
Being open, interested and curious comes from deep inside. That is how Karin Zwiers looks at it: “These traits hark back to the age of seafaring and trading.“ As the general manager for German speaking countries, she has represented Oman Tourism on behalf of the Tourism Ministry for the past 15 years. “After flying for a little over six hours tourists can delve into a completely different world“, is how the tourism manager describes this destination. The sultanate is the official partner country of ITB Berlin 2020.
“Oman has many facets“, says the agency director of Interfaces International, “a surprising level of diversity and contrasts for the region, whose culture is more than 5,000 years old and is kept alive by its people.“ Traditional dress is as much part of everyday life as welcoming guests with incense, and hands artfully coloured in henna.
Into the modern world at lightning speed
After succeeding his father in 1970, and as a fourteenth generation member of the ruling family, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said brought the seafaring nation on the incense route “into the modern world and out of the Middle Ages at lightning speed.“ He was keen to involve his people in this process from the start, and called upon them to make a big effort, including women. Education played a very important role for the sultan, who had previously studied in Germany. He supported male and female activities in equal measure and introduced a healthcare system. In order to create jobs for a rural population that was migrating to the cities he proclaimed “Omanisation”, which was important for the country. In Karin Zwiers’ view, besides blending a fascinating culture and spectacular natural attractions Oman’s most important selling point is that “Omanis live in an open society in which women play an active role.“ The first tourism minister to be appointed was not a man: 16 years ago, for the first time, a woman was made Minister of Tourism in Oman. Omanis are proud of this progress and treat visitors with great warmth as they educate them about their country and culture. “They can be found in the same places as tourists, in the same restaurants and want to ask questions and communicate“, observes Zwiers. The sultanate is a fascinating destination and always worth a trip.
Text: Sabine Neumann and Horst Schwartz, Redaktionsbüro