Oman, a Gulf monarchy that hosts the largest number of foreign tourists in the world, has long been popular with Westerners looking to spend the winter holidays there.
But the country has been struggling to attract the global business-class crowd that has been seeking to make their way to the island nation, whose economy is largely dependent on oil revenues and tourism.
And in a sign that Oman is no longer as well-known as some of its neighboring Gulf Arab states, the number of Americans visiting Oman this year fell below the 30,000 average in 2017.
But this month, Oman announced a $10 million budget for tourism development in the region, which could help the government recruit more international tourists.
The announcement comes amid an intensifying competition between Western nations and regional rivals such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for foreign tourists.
It follows a wave of departures of Gulf Arab countries, including Kuwait, from Oman over the past two years, as its economy is squeezed by the rising costs of energy and other imports.
But in a recent interview, Ombadah Mansour, the Oman tourism minister, said the country had a chance to make inroads with the global travel market.
He said Oman had long been the favorite destination for foreign expatriates, who had been drawn to the country by the “credible” and “unparalleled” quality of the hospitality.
But Oman’s economy is still heavily dependent on the oil industry, and many foreigners have begun to seek alternatives.
Oman’s tourism minister said that the country could attract some 1 million foreigners this year, including 500,000 Americans.
Oman’s tourism industry has been hit hard by the fall in oil prices, with tourism revenue falling by a third to $15.7 billion in 2017, according to the United Nations.
Ombadagah Mansur said Oman hoped to attract more visitors to the Gulf states, including Qatar and Kuwait, by increasing the number and quality of services available.
He said the government was working with foreign companies, as well as international banks, to expand its service offerings, which include an English-language website for international visitors.
Omara, a tiny nation of just about 2 million people, has been a popular destination for international tourists for centuries.
Its tourism industry, including hotels, restaurants, and resorts, is estimated to be worth $7 billion.
Omdah Mansoun told the BBC that the government hoped to grow its tourism business by recruiting more tourists to the tiny, wealthy country.
The number of tourists is expected to increase this year.
The tourism minister did not provide an exact figure.
Otayb Abdulla, the head of tourism in the Gulf, said that Oman had a lot of experience in the tourism industry and had the resources to help it thrive.
But he also said the new budget could not compensate for the fall of the country’s tourism market.
“The current budget is inadequate, and it does not provide for the future,” he said.
“We have to invest in tourism in order to attract additional foreign visitors.
We can’t keep on being an island that attracts only the wealthy.
We have to diversify our economies to attract both the wealthy and the middle classes.”
Mansour also said that Ombadahadb, the tourism minister responsible for foreign travel, was working hard to ensure the country would attract international tourists, including American ones.
He told the Reuters news agency that the Omani government had recently created an international travel agency, which would be open to all foreign travelers.
The agency would be in charge of establishing an official guide service for Omani tourists to guide them to local hotels and other accommodations, Mansour said.
A senior Omani official told Al Jazeera that the Ministry of Tourism and Sports would work closely with the US embassy in Oman to find ways to attract international visitors to Oman.
Al Jazeera’s John Amis, reporting from London, said he was not sure whether the Omanian government was trying to boost its tourism industry.
“This is an attempt to entice foreign investment, but I doubt it will succeed,” he told Aljazeera.
“The Omani tourism sector is heavily dependent upon the oil revenue, and tourism is still highly dependent on imports.”
Ombadaah Mansoor has been in power since 1996, and has long sought to diversate the countrys economy, making it more attractive to foreign investors.
But he has struggled to attract large numbers of foreign visitors, despite his efforts to do so.