When The New York Times published its annual list of must-visit places earlier this year, there was a new addition to the coveted travel piece: the Sultanate of Oman. At the 20th position on the list, Oman topped global business hubs like Seoul, US tourist hotspots like New Orleans and island getaways like St. Kitts. From “the staggering peaks in Oman’s landscapes” to its “dramatic coastlines”, the Times highlighted why so many travelers around the world are flocking to the Arabian Gulf to experience authentic Oman.
The country’s location may lead some outsiders to assume that the country’s rise to global prominence can be attributed to the oil industry. While it is true that oil has played a key role in the growth of the country’s economy (its petroleum reserves are currently 25th largest in the world), the leaders in Oman have been hard at work in their efforts to diversify the economy. One of the major pieces of that diversification process rests on a building that has been stirring up a big conversation in the meetings industry: the Oman Exhibition & Convention Centre.
“It is truly remarkable to see influential decision makers for global meetings and exhibitions share our enthusiasm about this landmark project,” Trevor McCartney, General Manager, Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre, says. “We have numerous events already booked for 2016 that are expected to bring thousands of visitors to the Sultanate in our first year alone, which in itself underscores the potential of OCEC as an international exhibition and congress venue and a driver of socio-economic benefits for the country.”
The events already booked include two big names: the 10,000-attendee International Medical Tourism Exhibition & Conference and 120,000-attendee COMEX IT, Telecom & Technology Show.
Growth Opportunities In Oman — And A Growing Hotel Supply
The initial bookings at the OCEC are impressive, and the building’s expected growth trajectory shows just how crucial conventions will be to Oman’s economy over the next decade. By 2022, McCartney estimates the Centre will welcome an average of 600,000 visitors per year.
That influx of convention attendees means that hotel developers all have their eyes on Oman.
“Oman has lately been in the throes of a hotel boom,” Sarah Khan at The New York Times writes.
With plans for a JW Marriott and a Crowne Plaza to open within the OCEC precinct, meeting professionals can count on trusted hotel names nearby. By the time the Centre opens, there will be more than 10,500 hotel rooms within 30 minutes of the venue, and plans for a rapid transport system will make attendee travel easy and efficient.
Making Headlines In The Meetings Industry
The New York Times’ list of places to visit is not the only accolade on Oman’s recent resumé. In May, the country made its first-ever appearance on the International Congress and Convention Association’s list of top countries for meetings and conventions. Oman ranked 79th in the 2015 Top 100, recognition that is sure to rise once the Centre starts welcoming attendees.
“Oman has been investing heavily in infrastructure, research and marketing over the last few years, so we at ICCA are not surprised that the country is now climbing our rankings,” Martin Sirk, CEO, ICCA, says. “This should be just the beginning of the country’s journey to become established as a strong international association meetings destination.”
Want to hear what your colleagues from North America and Europe have to say about Oman? Click here to check out perspectives from the inaugural PCMA Oman Advisory Summit. This educational article was brought to you by Omran and the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre. As the facility prepares to officially open its doors in 2016, more meeting professionals are adding Oman to their list of site visits. Click here to check out a preview video of the Centre and go here to get in touch with the team at the OCEC to learn more about what Oman can do for your attendee experience.