This paper provides an overview of the current status and future potentials of nature-based tourism in the Sultanate of Oman with particular focus on sea turtles at Ras Al Hadd. The paper uses objective yardsticks such as inbound tourist arrivals, nationality and spending patterns, seasonality, employment, as well as gross domestic product contribution derived from secondary data from national and international sources to appraise the current situation. Additionally, based on the review of relevant literature, a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis is used to summarize relevant socioeconomic, political, environmental, and regulatory issues. While there is strong evidence of government commitment to develop nature-based tourism in the country, a number of key issues related to tourist facilities, human activities, environmental conditions, economic research, and capacity development are highlighted for further attention. Most importantly, the analysis suggests a potential to increase the contribution of sustainable sea turtle tourism to Oman’s gross domestic product. To realize this potential the sector needs to (1) consider the seasonal variation of tourists, (2) develop its accommodation capabilities especially at sites with ecological uniqueness while ensuring minimum negative impacts on biodiversity, (3) increase the number of Omani nationals employed in the tourism industry and improve their skills through training, (4) develop marketing tools to attract the dominant inbound ecotourism groups to the country, (5) enhance sustainable planning implementation in the Omani tourism sector, and (6) most importantly ensure an effective implementation of legislation protecting sea turtles and their habitats. It is hoped that policymakers can use these findings to set a direction on sustainable sea turtle tourism in Oman, while promoting the effective conservation of these species.
- Sea turtles
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management