The rise of Oman as top adventure destination
From extreme sports, hot-air ballooning to via ferratas, trekking and caving, the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) along with other stakeholders is working to make Oman one of the top sports and adventure destinations in the world. Part of the initial plan are four main projects Oman X, Hot-Air Ballooning, Majlis al Jinn and Adventure Musandam, through which the ministry with the support of the private sector will target adrenaline junkies to experience the varied adventure options that Oman has to offer.
A consultant will be appointed soon to implement and license adventure activities in the country.
Hot-Air Ballooning: The project is supported by ASAAS (Muscat National Development and Investment Company), which after analysis and site assessments has selected Sharqiyah (Wahiba Sands) as a base for the project, with a well-known operator Virgin Balloon Flights.
“Hot-air ballooning is becoming one of the most appealing recreational and adventure activities for tourists, as it gives a rarely seen view of Oman’s captivating scenery,” stated Implementation Support and Follow-up Unit (ISFU), Annual Report 2018. ISFU was set up to follow up the outcomes of the National Program for Enhancing Economic Diversification (Tanfeedh).
ASAAS has got pre-approvals from the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) and the Ministry of Defence. “Work is under way to ensure all safety and regulatory measures have been taken into consideration whilst offering a world-class tourist attraction. The initiative pushed for the development of regulations for operating hot-air balloons by PACA, a critical milestone for companies to start operating this kind of activity,” stated ISFU.
Oman X: It’s a company which will be established by ASAAS to manage the promotion of extreme sports in Oman. “Oman X will target local and international tourists and will help make the sultanate one of the top sports and adventure destinations in the world. Several meetings with ASAAS were held to help them fast-track MoT approval and to commence a feasibility study. The study was submitted and a conditional approval was given to ASAAS,” the ISFU report stated.
Musandam Adventure: MoT and Omran have signed a pact to develop adventure activities in Musandam. A study conducted by Omran for ‘Musandam Adventure’ concluded that, within a few years, the governorate could become the adventure capital of the Middle East and a must-visit destination for all adventure travellers. “Activities such as climbing, deep-water sports, diving and via ferratas could be offered. The design work for trekking paths has been completed and will be implemented this year, in addition to the via ferrata activity,” said ISFU.
Majlis al Jinn: Considered to be one of the ten largest cave chambers in the world, the plan is to develop it into one of the world’s premier adventure destinations, an undertaking that MoT has assigned to Omran. “Based on the concept presented by Omran, the development of Majlis al Jinn will be implemented in phases, the first of which will include the removal of all old bolts and develop new waymarked trails inside the cave. There will also be the development of guidelines for adventure and tour operators who want to use the cave,” the report added.