The newly-formed Tourism Ministry has invited bids for the consultancy contracts on two new tourism projects at Ras al-Hadd and Salalah.

The Ras al-Hadd project is the larger of the two and will be an eco-resort centred around the turtle sanctuary in the area. A new airport is planned to serve the development.

The project in Salalah will be a residential and tourist resort on the coast, along the lines of the Wave project taking shape on the coast opposite Seeb International Airport. The process of selecting a developer for the Wave is in its final stages and an agreement is expected to be in place by the end of August with Oman Tourism Development Company (OTDC), which will hold the government’s 51 per cent stake in the project. ‘We are in final negotiations with our selected developer and a formal selection is imminent,’ says Wael Alawati, acting chief executive of OTDC.

The shareholding structure of project companies for the new resorts is likely to be similar to that of the Wave, with the government retaining the controlling stake.

The development of Ras al-Hadd, Salalah and the Wave as tourist centres stems from a Priority Action Plan drawn up by the local office of Parsons International, which identified several areas with high potential to attract visitors.

The promotion of tourism in the Musandam peninsula is also planned. Expansion of the tourist industry is a central part of Muscat’s economic diversification plans (MEED 28:5:04).