Economic Impact Of Wildlife Tourism In Oman

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Research Objectives

  1. List the wild animals that are found in Oman.
  2. Number of tourist in Oman per year in the last 3 years; what attracts them to Oman.
  3. Explain why wildlife should be a major tourist attraction in Oman and find solutions and make adjustments in the way it is perceived.
  4. Discuss what is the economic contribution of wildlife tourism in Oman.
  5. Review the different ways that the wildlife conservations can take to change and strengthen their impact in the economy of Oman
  6. Compare wildlife tourism of Oman and other countries.
  7. Identify why the shuwamia in Masirah has not been developed to attract even more tourist to the fishery and cetacean tourism in Oman.

Significance / Relevance of the study

To give light to the wildlife conservation in Oman and its contribution to the overall economy of the country, get a better understanding of why it has not been given a better focus/priority as a major tourist attraction.

Scope and Limitations

  1. The research scope is to identify all the wildlife Oman has to offer and see the total tourists visiting Oman are attracted to the wildlife conservation.
  2. It will be able to analyse and understand why wild life is not a main attraction in Oman tourism package.
  3. It will dive in deep into the economic contribution of wildlife conservations and other sources like fisheries to the overall tourism sector in Oman.
  4. The research will be able to identify the weaknesses in the wildlife tourism marketing and ways to improve and gain more attraction.
  5. Finally it will be able to delve into the success of shuwaimia in masirah in attracting tourists to the fisheries and what should the government do to be able to maintain and increase the number of visits.

Relevant Theory and Literature Review

Omani wildlife is the flora and fauna of the country from the southern corner of the Arabian Peninsula to the coasts on the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. Oman climate can be described as hot and dry apart from the south eastern coast. Oman has variety of habitats for wildlife which include the mountains, valleys, deserts, coastal plains and sea coasts.

When one speaks about the tourism sector in Oman and its contribution to the overall country economy one usually means the Historical sites, commercial and industrial field. Rarely do we see or hear the wildlife in Oman being the focal point in attracting tourist to Oman.

According to Anita Isalska in her 2016 article with Rough Guides; she says the capital of Oman is a breath of fresh air when compared to UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) and Bahrain. She mentions the dazzling Mattrah souk and superb seafood and says the terrains bring the biggest thrills. She mentions the Hajr mountain Trek the deserts at dawn, spot dolphins at sundown and overall hospitality of the Omani people. She mentions the Historical sites in Nizwa and in the city. In her article there is no mention of the wildlife of Oman as a tourist attraction which is surprising as Oman is home to a variety of endangered species. (Isalska, 2016)

When you imagine Oman what comes to mind is the harsh environment (Desert) in the Arab Peninsula. Oman is rich with variety of landscapes and is home to many different species. One of the most common desert animal in Oman is the Camel; they can be spotted everywhere in Oman from the Coast to the mountains in the desert.

Oman is also home to Sea turtles that migrate annually from the Arabian Gulf to lay their eggs on the Omani shores; the most common is the green turtle but an overall five to seven different species come from different locations. Tourist should be marketed the experience of seeing the migrating process and the morning tour of the Al Jinz turtle reserve where tourist have the opportunity to see and snorkel alongside the turtle. (Ross, 1987)

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Oman is also home to the Dolphins and whales, it is said that the best spot to come across a dolphin or a whale is the Musandam Peninsula and the shores of Oman. One of the attraction in the Omani wildlife is its rich marine diversity especially cetaceans such as the humpback whales that is isolated and endangered and the only non migratory population is the world. If advertised well tourists would come from all over the world for a chance to see the magnificent site. Other than the humpback whale Oman is home to the bryde whales, sperm whales, false killer whales, riso dolphins, spinner dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and Indo pacific humpback dolphins and the occasional killer whale. (Kennedy, Fergus, 2016)

Masirah Island is one of the new spots opened for tourism; one can only get to the Island by ferry that is managed by the National Ferry company that runs six times a day between Shannah to Marirah. At this moment Masirah is not developed to accommodate a vast number of tourists. The Island has very few high end hotels and a kite surfing camp. For kite surfers Masirah is an attractive spot in the summer because of the monsoon winds; the Island is also an important hatching ground for the loggerhead sea turtles it is similar in importance to the beaches in Ras al Hadd and the nearby Ras al Jinz and a hatching ground for green sea turtles. Furthermore the endangered and most unique population of the humpback whales also migrate to the waters surrounding the island and Masirah Gulf (Surfer Today, 2014)

Finally Oman is home to the elusive and most endangered animal the Arabian Leopard in the mountains; their is approximately 200 left in the Arabian Peninsula. Oman is known as the last place the Arabian Leopard survives. In the Dhofari mountains of southern Oman and the Jabal Samhan Natural Reserves that was set up to protect the endangered wildcats. Another sanctuary that was set up was the Arabian Oryx sanctuary that helps the conservation of the Arabian Oryx and is the home of the sand gazelle, mountain gazelle, the Nubian Ibex, the honey badger, the red fox, the caracal, the sand cats and the Arabian wildcat (UNESCO, 2015).

As mentioned by Aljazeera (2014) majority of Oman’s economy depends on it oil production; a whopping 75% of the overall economy has been accounted in the oil production sector. Omani government had made plans to make Tourism sector a major player in building the Omani economy and in the year 2014 tourism contributed to Oman’s overall GDP by 6.4% and had anticipated it to grow to 8.4% by 2024.

As noted by the Ministry of Tourism; Oman has vast potential when it comes to the growth in the tourism sector. It is home to long coastlines, dramatic mountain scenery and numerous historical sites which include four UNESCO heritage sites, the tourism sector is the focal point of diversification in Oman. The Ministry of tourism has aimed in attracting 12 million visitors by the year 2020. Oman received 1.36 million tourists in 2007 (Ministry of Tourism 2011); the figure further increased to 1.96 million visitors in 2013 (NCSI 2014). According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the direct contribution of tourism to Oman’s GDP amounts to 3.3 percent of Oman’s GDP (2014) and with 37,000 jobs generated, it accounts for 3.5 percent of total employment (2014). With these results, Oman is ahead of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, but behind the UAE and Bahrain.

As claimed by MEED, the reality of the tourism sector in Oman does not match to the country’s potential. Omani nationals spend a lot more on foreign trips than the income Oman receives from their international visitors/tourist. The tourism trade gap was calculated to around 380 million USD in 2011 (MEED). MEED also sites the lack of infrastructural and investment to the tourism sector. (, 2018)

Proposed Methodology

Qualitative methodology was used when researching the paper; Secondary data was mainly used; information was collected from different journals on the Oman economy and tourism sector. e books that explain more on the importance of tourism to an economy, websites / blogs that talk about the tourist experience in Oman and newspapers that give historical facts on the growth of the tourism sector in Oman.

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