The Omani Government has announced that visas on arrival are no longer available. This means travelers to Oman will have to apply online for an electronic visa before they arrive in the country.
The move will affect hundreds of thousands of visitors. Before, travelers had a choice: they could either obtain a visa on arrival from a visa service desk, or obtain an electronic visa in advance.
Oman e-Visa made an online statement: "Royal Oman Police hereby announce that as of Wednesday, March 21, 2018, applications for tourist and express visas will only be accepted online through the ROP site, and will not be received at the visa service desks."
The Royal Oman police announced: "Applications for tourism visa...will not be received at the visa service desks".
Local businesses have criticized the move saying the move will dissuade some people from coming to the country. This a particular concern for your operators who rely on visitors coming from the UAE for short trips. In 2016, over 800,000 people came and went on the same day which was over a quarter of all visitors to the country in that year.
Oman seeking to boost tourism industry
The government launched the electronic visa system last year as part of an effort to increase tourism. It was originally available to citizens of 67 countries as well as GCC residents employed in 116 professions.
More than three million people visit Oman each year through the government wants to attract far more. The government and businesses have invested huge sums in the tourism industry, there are many new luxury hotels, a new airport terminal is under construction in Muscat, and new attractions are being developed. Oman already has a number of features which draw visitors including numerous diving sites, secluded beaches, and historic forts.
The Omani economy has always relied on its natural oil and gas reserves. However, this no longer sustainable and the government is looking to expand and diversify the economy, tourism is one of the main areas of focus.
The new airport terminal is probably the most important development as it will mean that Oman will be able to handle more visitors and provide them with a better welcome. The first flight will land at the new terminal on March 20. The existing terminal is visibly old and not up to the standards of its neighboring countries. More flights from more places, from countries such as Turkey, Russia, and Morroco, will run later this year.