Monday, 10 June 2013

How hot is the Omani hot?

Oman is clearly a highly seasonal destination. Most hoteliers would consider May, June, July and August the worst to overcome and then November, December, January and February being the months to milk for the austerity of the summer.

We are not alone with this pain; most of the region is struggling with the same problem. In fact there are very few destinations equally strong year round, at least when it comes to leisure demand.  Some mountain destinations can achieve that combining winter sports (skiing, snowboarding etc.) with summer outdoor activities (tracking, hiking, mountain biking etc.).  In terms of offering a consistently nice weather throughout the year, very few destinations have the luxury like the Caribbean has.

So what are the obvious practices for extending the hotel / tourism season in Oman?  Gradually increasing discounts, the +1 packages (nights for free or additional person for free, or kids for free).  The special targeted offers and packages like detox or diet packages, body and mind programs that place the draw card from the weather and the outdoors into the indoors and the program that is offered.

But it would be too easy to say that by applying these we have done everything. In fact the one and only main negative perception that any attraction/destination in Oman has to fight is the “unbearable, unpleasant” weather.  And that is something the country promotion could support.  After having lived here for a few years, I am not saying summer is pleasant (although this year so far was quite generous), but I think the MidEast including Oman, had the misfortune of being stigmatized with an underrated weather. Probably working to soften  this stereotype will not result in people showing up in Oman in the middle of August, but could refine a bit their attitude. Just think of when you have a chat over the phone with anybody from Europe of North America, it is almost a rule that they will express some compassion for you bearing that “extraordinary heat”.  In reality many other touristy areas are almost comparably hot to Oman, but people rarely think of them as such.

Let’s have a look of a quick weather benchmark for today (June 10, 2013):
  • Muscat: 30 (feels like: 38), Clear and humid
  • India, Goa:  28 (33), Rain and mist
  • Pukhet, Thailand: 30 (36), Light Rain
  • Seychelles: 27 (31), Sunny
  • Maldives: 31, (44), Partly cloudy
  • Colombi, Sri Lanka: 31 (39), Partly sunny
  • Caribbean (the Bahamas, Georgetown): 29 (35), Sunny to partly cloudy
  • Hawai, Honolulu: 31, (31) Partly cloudy
Souce: AccuWeather

Wow, it is not as bad as I instantly thought.  If I was to priorities country marketing money, probably I would not fight frontally the perception of the country being a furnaces. What I could certainly consider though, is loading an app on the Oman tourism website which benchmarks the Omani weather (maybe the one in Muscat and the one on Jebel Ahkdar or Jebel Shams) against the usual suspects of mainstream overseas leisure (sun and sea) destinations.