Oman will put airport development at the heart of a 25-year plan to grow the tourism industry and diversify its economy beyond energy-related activities when it unveils the long-term strategy in September.

About 50% of the sultanate’s GDP comes from oil and natural gas, but with reserves dwindling the government is eager to develop new sources of income.

Tourism has long been recognised as a potential growth sector – Oman boasts some of the most unspoiled landscapes in the Middle East – yet limited air connectivity and ground infrastructure have slowed efforts to expand the industry.

Muscat International Airport will see the largest growth spurt when its new terminal building opens in early 2017, nearly doubling annual passenger capacity to 12 million. The airport saw a 9% increase in footfall during the first quarter of 2015. Subsequent phased growth will lift its capacity to 24, 36 and 48 million.

Salalah, Oman’s second largest city, will meanwhile benefit from the opening of a new airport this summer, initially with an annual capacity of 1 million. Two smaller towns – Sohar and Duqm – have already opened new airports over the past 12 months.

Several hoteliers are also investing in the Sultanate to capitalise on the 2015-2040 tourism plan – among them Westin, St Regis, Ritz Carlton, Kempinski, Louis Vuitton and Fairmont.

Source: Cirium Dashboard