Saturday, December 31, 2011

Don't depend on the tourist money...

With oil and gas reserves now reaching the point of decline, Oman has quite wisely opted to explore alternative ways to boost funds and support an ever-growing (and very demanding) population. 
Subsidised medical treatment, water and electricity doesn't come cheap, neither does a monthly stipend for having no job. 

Pristine coastlines and beautiful mountains, some of the best diving in the world and a desert quarter to rival the Sahara means that tourism is the way forward. One only has to look at the number of hotels sprouting up on premium cuts of land, and the expansion of the national airline, to see that this is a project that is going full-on towards getting some hard-earned dollars from visiting tourists. 

Local blogger Andy In Oman, has run numerous reviews of these new establishments, along with Muscat Muttering's Mr. Sythe doing an extensive plug for the Chedi hotel, and all of it's new facilities. 

The message is simple: Come to Oman. Eat, drink and be merry. See the sights, get pampered in five star luxury, pay through the nose for it, and go home happy. 
The system is cyclical, we hope you will come back again someday, or at least recommend your experience to others. 

But is there worrying news on the horizon?

The Maldives, one of the tourist destinations touted by Oman Air on giant billboards in London and Paris, has just passed a law which closes down all health spas. Not just the dodgy ones: all of them. Hundreds. 

Thousands of people protested in the streets, demanding the heads of the government and in order to restore order, this law was passed. 
It is phase one of the order. They are also going to ban the sale of alcohol. 
The people have spoken. And they have every right to do so. No spas, no alcohol means no tourists. You reap what you sow. They just need to find a new way of supporting themselves in a country that has been described sarcastically as abundant in carbon reserves with a stable independent economy that is no way dependent upon tourism nor facing threat from climate change with absolutely no need to plan for the future.

The above action made me think a little bit about somewhere a bit similar.... Oman, and what the Grand Mufti had to say about the Opera House. They tell me that ballets are in his gun-sights also, and that the recent performance of Carmen had to be toned down. 

By logic, the next step now should be to follow suit with the islanders in Malé and shut down the spas at the Chedi, Shangri-La and Jebel Shifa, no?

All fine and dandy, go ahead. Either by democracy or the latest trend of protesting, the people will get what they want. 

But here's some food for thought from a recent conversation. At the moment, there's trouble in Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Bahrain, Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, Maldives, Pakistan, Southern Thailand, Southern Philippines, Somalia.

Is there a common denominator across all of the above that I am missing?


Balqis De Cesare said...

The alternative is to ask to be annexed to Saudi Arabia
They have a big budget surplus
They are so rich they swim in oil
But they will probably ask to shut down the opera house

Andrew Brown said...

I read recently that that ban in the Maldives has been reversed as many of the government officials own resorts, haha! I think Oman is far more tolerant than the Maldives anyway! :-) Interesting read!