Private sector may manage Heritage sites

By Kabeer Yousuf — MUSCAT: Jan. 10 – The Ministry of Tourism is contemplating privatising the management of  heritage/nature sites as per recommendations made by Tanfeedh Conference held in Oman last year. Tanfeedh is a national programme for enhancing economic diversification. The ministry is working out plans to implement Tanfeedh recommendations. It is considering various projects to attract more tourists and top the world tourism map, it was learnt at a meeting attended by Ahmed bin Nasser al Mehrzi, Minister of Tourism. Among the proposals being considered are privatising the management of natural and heritage sites, enabling niche nature and adventure activities, creating cultural and F&B precincts and creating iconic tourism projects.

The ministry is considering public-private partnerships (PPP) for such projects. “One of the main objectives of Tanfeedh is the creation of PPP. Most of these projects have a good structure that can be managed by the private sector,” Maithaa bint Saif al Mahrouqiyah, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, said. “We are considering brainstorming on a variety of topics, including privatising the management of natural sites/heritage sites as a way of creating more jobs for the local people, attracting more visitors and topping the world tourism map,” she said.

She said that discussions and drafting of policies of governance for the same are currently under way. Also in the pipeline are the establishment of a Tourism Development Fund, Oman Tourism and Convention Bureau, introduction of e-visa and developing a year-round calendar of events to woo more international visitors. “We are working in improving infrastructure requirements of the tourism industry and trying to find ways to strike partnerships with the private sector.”

Tanfeedh is a part of the 9th Five-Year Development Plan (2016-2020) aimed at building upon the achievements of the previous plans, with a focus on targeted sectors. Tanfeedh was launched in collaboration with the Malaysian Government’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit. The targeted sectors identified by the Royal Decree No 1/2016 are manufacturing, tourism, transport and logistics, mining, and fisheries. The programme will focus on raising the contribution of these sectors to the Sultanate’s gross domestic product, increasing investment in these sectors and creating more job opportunities.

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