Room at the inn: Oman to turn more heritage homes into guest houses

Move will preserve and show off sultanate's culture and civilisation

Oman has announced plans to turn architecturally important old homes into guest houses, as happened with Nizwa Heritage Inn, right. AFP / Supplied
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There will soon be more room at the inn in Oman, with the country set to turn ancient homes into guest houses.

The sultanate's Ministry of Tourism has announced a plan to preserve architectural treasures by turning them into heritage inns, as part of a move to highlight Oman's culture while boosting tourism.

The investment forms part of wider initiatives, showing the history and civilisation of the sultanate.

“Investing in heritage homes is a step in the right direction amid our continued efforts to entice more tourists from all over the world to come visit Oman," said Saleh bin Ali Al Khaifi, director of promotion and marketing at the ministry.

"Therefore, we are moving forward with our mega tourism projects aimed at transforming old traditional homes into heritage inns with the best services, while preserving and protecting the old structures and the atmosphere of the neighbourhoods in our ancient areas."

The ministry said sustainability and hospitality would be cornerstones of the project.

The plans form part of Oman's goal to welcome 11 million visitors a year by 2040, as well as to create thousands of jobs in the tourism industry.

The ministry did not name which buildings would be turned into accommodation options, nor did it give a projected end date for building work.

In 2018, six restored houses in Al Aqur village, in Nizwa, were opened as tourist guest houses, known as Nizwa Heritage Inn.

"The whole setup is designed to provide an authentic Omani experience when traditions and culture formed the mainstay of Omani society," manager Omar al Sawafi told Muscat Daily when the inn first opened. "The guests will feel they are living in the past, albeit with a few modern facilities like air conditioners and Wi-Fi."

Travel restrictions to Oman are currently in place in light of the coronavirus pandemic. After restricting entry to residents and nationals only, the Omani government has joined many countries worldwide to introduce a suspension on all international flights to and from the country from Sunday, March 29.