If there’s an operational priority for Oman’s Tourism Ministry, it’s about brand. That’s the message from the Ministry of Tourism’s Undersecretary, Maitha Al Mahrouqi
who says, “Oman’s brand value is the thread that ties everything together. From the moment you board an Oman Air flight, are greeted at reception or enjoy our attractions and services, we all need to be giving the same message.”
Oman is a newcomer to global tourism and creating an identifiable consumer image is not easy in the cluttered and highly competitive world of destination marketing. Compared with its regional neighbors, its marketing budget seems minuscule, but already the sultanate is winning business as the destination for an authentic Arabian experience set in world-class natural settings.
Oman’s brand awareness campaign on BBC Worldwide and BBC.com carry Oman’s marketing tag line: Beauty has an address. Ms. Al Mahrouqi says: “Our strapline conveys the experiential quality of a visit to Oman. Through personal interaction with Omanis to sitting back and seeing our beautiful landscapes, visitors will realize that beauty has an address. Our advertisements are evocative and contrast tradition, modernity and environmental quality. We think this is attractive to responsible tourists. The same approach will also work for us as we build leisure, meetings, and incentive and stopover business.”
It might not have the marketing budget and punch of the campaigns of its neighboring countries, but Oman’s hoteliers will say that it has the highest repeat rate of visitors and the longest length of stay profile. International Air Transport Association data for July 2012 points to another record year for tourism arrivals.
Total arrivals are up 14% with several country markets recording massive year-on-year growth. This is especially the case for Switzerland (+74%) and Italy (+37%) following the start of non-stop services from Zurich and Milan to Muscat. Ms. Al Mahrouqi describes this as Oman’s “resonance” as a uniquely authentic destination.
Oman’s Tourism Ministry is giving greater priority to integrated consumer campaigns. Ms. Al Mahrouqi says: “We look forward to working on digital platforms that boost our consumer profile and allow air fares, accommodation and tour bookings to be booked dynamically. This will add value to our branding work, widen our consumer base and build market share in our targeted segments.”
Advances in travel to and within Oman over the next decade such as fast rail services to its Gulf neighbors will open-up access to Oman.
Likewise the redevelopment of Port Sultan Qaboos into an internationally significant tourism precinct (from 2015) will see Muscat repositioned as the authentic cruise gateway to the Gulf and a must-see destination stopover for world cruises.