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Can Virtual Reality be used to promote Tourism in Oman?

Rushali is a Tourism and Hospitality Management graduate. Takes interest in criminal psychology.

Concept of Virtual Reality in Oman

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As per trends of 2019, according to the Ministry of Tourism, tourism’s contribution to Oman’s economy and it is GDP is predicted to increase from 6% to 10% in the next few years. After the oil, gas and export industries, tourism is the most profitable industry in Oman. Oman is particularly known for cultural tourism and its diverse environment compared to the other GCC countries. According to The World Economic Forum's most recent Travel and Tourism Report, Oman is the 9th safest country to live in around the world. Government-owned organizations like Omran have been designated to working towards identifying and working towards tourism infrastructure development in the country. A long-term plan for tourism strategy named Vision 2040 has been developed by the tourism industry in Oman, which focuses on diversifying the economy owing to the uncertainty surrounding the economic dependence on oil.

Tourism has only recently gained its foothold in the government strategies in Oman since it is looking towards achieving an economy independent of oil. With emerging technological advancements, customers are becoming increasingly dependent on technology. According to the CEO of Sabre Travel Network Middle East, Oman will see increasing dependence on technology especially for online services. He also lays out the importance of travel businesses to incorporate technology into their operations to make it easily accessible to customers. Although technological advancements in the field of tourism have been slow, technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have been introduced by the Information Technology Authority (ITA) to the fields of education/ military/ medical simulations. Majan Travel, in 2018 became the first travel agency in Oman to offer Virtual Reality Technology-assisted travel to its customers. It is being offered as a travel planning service for people to experience the destination before visiting it. Virtual Reality Gaming has been developed in Oman, which is currently in use in many malls. It is further increasing in use, especially in the MENA region (the Middle East and Northern Africa). Immersive experience related theme parks are heavily dependent on Virtual Reality technology.

VR Implementation in Oman: Suggestions

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Virtual Reality has almost had an invisible presence in Oman. Its usage is vast and is not costly to implement. Small initiatives like 360 videos on YouTube and several other marketing techniques have been in use in recent years in the country. However, keeping up with technological advancements is a necessity in a digitalized world. VR, though rather recent, is already in use in many major countries. Oman has been comparatively lacking in its technology relevant development. Usage of Virtual Reality apps, Augmented Reality museums, Interactive technologies at airports, biometric identifications etc are things that could be implemented in Oman. VR in the tourism sector in Oman could include VR booths to experience popular attractions in Oman. Tour operators in Oman could come up with VR tours for tourists from countries abroad so they can attract and increase the number of potential tourists willing to visit the country.

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