(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Muscat International Airport 'welcomed the world to its grand opening recently, making it an evening of Omani pride and celebration.
The event, held under the patronage of Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud al-Said, Deputy Prime Minister for Oman's Council of Ministers, was a 'spectacular visual expression of Oman's rich heritage and diverse cultural tapestry, and set the scene for the Sultanate's ambitious vision for the future of its aviation industry, according to a press statement.
Commercially opened in March this year, Muscat International Airport is one of the 'cornerstones in Oman's tourism strategy to attract more inbound travellers from around the world. 'As the main gateway to its capital, Muscat, and a stepping stone to the country's pristine beaches, coastline and interior regions, the ultramodern airport welcomed 11,419,791 passengers between January and September 2018 — a 9.8% increase over the same period last year, the statement noted.
Oman's Minister of Transport and Communications Dr Ahmed al-Futaisi reflected on the airport's role as an enabler to the tourism sector as the country continues its push to become one of the leading tourist destinations in the Middle East.
With new airports, strong government spending and a nationwide effort to support and facilitate tourism and transportation, Oman 'is turning this safe, secure and sunny country into one of the world's premiere travel destinations, the statement added.
Plans call for increasing the number of passengers to 40mn per year by 2040, and developing the country's flagship airline Oman Air into the #1 destination airline in the Middle East and North Africa.
The inauguration coincides with the Sultanate's National Day celebrations and was attended by key figures from Oman's government, influential leaders from the aviation and tourism sectors, and senior executives from Oman Aviation Group and its subsidiaries Oman Air, Oman Airports and Oman Aviation Services. OAG supports and enables companies in the tourism sector, or that work in related areas, creating an integrated value chain that links aviation, tourism and logistics across the country.
Safe, secure, increasingly well-connected domestically and internationally, the Sultanate can now offer its vast range of natural and cultural attractions to visitors from around the planet.
These include impressive Unesco cultural heritage sites such as the Bahla Fort, Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn archaeological sites, as well as the ancient city of Qalhat.In a land of sun-drenched deserts, turquoise seas and multi-coloured coastal reefs, the Sultanate also boasts of natural attractions tailored to discerning travellers' tastes. From trekking, hiking and camping in its deserts and mountain regions to scuba diving, jet skiing and snorkelling along its coasts, there's something for everyone, 365 days a year.