Oman wants more tourists from India and Russia

Oman is hoping to make up a shortfall in its tourism industry by appealing to prospective visitors from India and Russia.

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Oman is turning to India and Russia to attract more tourists after a decline in the number of visitors from Western Europe because of unrest in the sultanate this year.

"We were expecting certain numbers that we didn't achieve because of the worry," says Olga Kubrak, the sales and public relations manager at The Chedi hotel in Muscat.

The hotel depends on Europe for more than 80 per cent of its guests, with most of those tourists arriving from the UK and Germany.

Ms Kubrak declined to offer figures for the drop in business, but says the downturn "was very evident", with some bookings cancelled. Protesters have taken to the streets several times this year calling for economic improvements and political reform.

Most of the demonstrations have taken place in the industrial city of Sohar.

"If you're a first time visitor, then you're hesitant," says Ms Kubrak.

New markets are expected to bring in more tourists, however.

Oman Air, the country's national carrier, is planning to launch direct flights to Moscow at the end of the year.

"We have new representative offices in India and Russia," says Mohammed Al Riyami at Oman's tourism ministry. "China will be our next plan."

Ms Kubrak says The Chedi is also focusing on these countries. "We're doing a lot with India at the moment. We're doing a lot with Russia."

Oman last year attracted more than 1.6 million tourists and is still hoping to increase that number this year.