Oman will break ground on a $175 million botanic garden project this month, in a bid to attract more tourists to the sultanate.
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This huge project, at Al Khoudh in the capital Muscat, will be complete by the end of 2023, according to the government of Oman.
“It will be one of the largest botanic gardens in the world,” Minister of Heritage and Tourism Salim Al Mahrouqi said on Sunday.
“It will present an opportunity for visitors to experience the flora and vegetation of Oman while learning about the agricultural heritage, rich cultural traditions and legendary hospitality of the country.”
The botanic garden will feature habitat gardens, a visitor centre, research and field study centres, a children’s play area and a nature reserve, the minister added.
This massive project covers 423 hectares and they provide tram cars to attract more visitors. The minister did not say how much the venture will cost, but an official connected to the project said it was estimated to be around $175 million.
At Present, Oman’s tourism sector depends heavily on Salalah in the south – renowned during the monsoon season for its lush, green landscape and seasonal waterfalls.
“The aim is for it to be a second destination for tourists as an alternative to Salalah, to pull in more tourists to the capital Muscat.”
According to figures from the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, Oman received nearly 3.5 million tourists in 2019 and 60 per cent of those visited Salalah.
But the pandemic reduced the number of tourists who visited Oman in 2020 to about 1.6 million. Numbers have fallen further in 2021.
“It will be less than half a million tourists [by the end of] 2021,” Mr Khalas, said.
“Most of them are going to Salalah – and this is the reason why this project is important to diversifying tourism.”