As Muscat gears up to welcome tourists as the 2012 Arab capital of Tourism, Oman’s second largest city Salalah is also rolling out the welcome mat. Salalah is celebrating its very own tourism festival from June 21 to July 18 and apart from displaying the best of what Dhofar has to offer, several countries such as Thailand, India, Egypt and Syria will also be presenting their cultural and business opportunities to visitors. In the midst of it all, an organisation called Salalah Visitor’s Portal (SVP) is working on a unique competition to help encourage tourists in from all over Oman and the world to the area.
The Portal’s team leader, Bader Mohammed al Azri, is helping organise a photography competition called ‘Oman Kids in Salalah’ at this year’s festival. “The idea is to have participants send in photographs and home videos of children at various locales around Dhofar,” he explained. “We are looking for photographs taken during family vacations to Dhofar.” The competition is being hosted in association with the Salalah Tourism Festival and is aimed at using various interactive platforms on the Internet to help encourage tourism in the region. “People can submit their photographs and home videos at our website www.salalahkids.com by July 20. We will then hold an online vote to decide the winners of the competition,” Bader said.
The winning photographs and videos will be used as part of a series of promotional tourism brochures. “This is the first time an event like this is being organised for tourism in Dhofar. Usually Dhofar is seen as a seasonal destination but we are hoping that through these photographs and home videos we can show just how diverse this region really is and how it can be a good place to visit all year round,” he said. The portal is accepting photographs of all different kinds of resolutions and qualities. “Nowadays people take a lot of photographs using their point-and-shoot or phone cameras while on vacation and we are encouraging them to send all those photographs in.”
Bader said the response to the competition has been very good and he hopes that, as more people hear about it, it will draw more attention to the region as a tourism destination. Not only will the winning photographs be printed in the brochures, but the person behind them will also receive a small prize in recognition of their achievement. This new digital initiative is part of an overall strategy to launch a stronger Internet presence for Dhofari tourism.
“SVP was launched as part of Oman Visitors Portal (omanvisitors.com). We wanted to have a place where people could go to find out all the information they needed to make a trip to this part of the
sultanate. It is supported by eOman and the chairman of Dhofar Municipality as an essential tool to encourage tourism here,” Bader said. The portal will offer information on everything from seasonal hotel offers, restaurant listings, car rental facilities and tourist attractions to help visitors plan their holidays. “With this competition, we will now have photographs of various destinations around the region to go with that information,” he added.