Tourism use Muscat as a base to go

Tourism is
a growing industry in the Sultanate of Oman. Because of this more and more
hotels are being built to provide accommodation for the high number of guests.
But the decision for a location does not happen without a prior analyzation of
the environment. This paper aims at analyzing the distribution of hotels and
attractions in the Muscat Governorate in the Sultanate of Oman. In the first
part existing literature concerning the topic of Point Pattern Analysis will be
reviewed. In the next paragraph the paper will have a closer look at the
methods that were used to analyze the subject. In the following part the
results will be displayed and interpreted. It will conclude with the outcome
that there is a strong relationship between the distribution of the hotels and
attractions.

 

Introduction

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In the last
years the Sultanate of Oman became a popular destination for many travellers. In
the year of 2017 about 2.5 million tourists arrived in the country and the
number is expected to grow. By 2027 more than 4 million guests are expected.
Compared to all the countries of the world Oman is on rank number 9 when it
comes to the tourism development (WTTC, 2017). Most of the tourism happens in
the Muscat Area, followed by Dhofar and Musandam. In those areas one will also
find the highest number of accommodation to meet the need of the rising number
of tourists. In 2016 there were 340 hotels registrated. Nearly 50% of those can
be found in the Governorate of Muscat (National Center for Statistics and
Information, 2018). Muscat as a capital with an international airport attracts
most visitors and those need to be accommodated. The city has further a
convenient location in the country with easy access to the major attractions.
That means that guest can use Muscat as a base to go on trips and do not have
to plan an additional overnight stay somewhere in order to see something.
Tourist Attractions like the City of Nizwa, the beautiful coast in direction of
Sur, the Wahiba Sands a high number of Wadis can be reached by car in maximum
three hours. But also the Governorate itself has some attractions to offer.
Souqs, Museums, Mosques, Beaches…. the number of options is big. Knowing this
one could ask if there is a connection between the location of attractions and
hotels in the city.

Helpful to
answer this question are so called Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS
helps to analyze places and destination and provides useful methods to find out
about relations and causes. In a GIS system every map consists of points (e.g.
special landmarks), lines (e.g. streets or rivers) and polygons (e.g. houses,
lakes). The next paragraph will have a closer look at a research method that
can be used with GIS which is Point Pattern Analysis and a major tool to answer
the previously asked question.

Literature Review

Several
scholars have written about the various functions of GIS and how it helps with
problem solving and decision making. The use of GIS and spatial analysis is
still relatively new. It started in the early 1960s with studies concerned with
settlement distribution, arrangement of stores in urban areas and distribution
of drumlins in glaciated areas. The reason for this ‘late’ development was
simply the point that the technical development was not advanced enough to be
used by a broader public. Only with the commercialization of GIS software it
was easier to analyze data and most important one was now able to visualize
data in maps which was a huge help for every research (Gatrell et al., 1996)

But no
matter how complex a problem or research question is, one of the first steps is
always the Spatial Analysis. According to Goodchild (1992) is Spatial Analysis
a set of techniques which are intended to support spatial perspective on data
and where the results are dependent on the location of the objects. Legendre
and Fortin (1989) define three different parts of the Spatial Analysis. The
first one is called Point Pattern Analysis. It is concerned with the
distribution of physical points or events in space. A point pattern is the set
of a location in a defined study region at which events of interest have been
recorded (Gatrell et al., 1996). A Point Pattern Analysis is intended to answer
the question if the geographic distribution data points are random or
dispersed. The second part of Spatial Analysis is the Line Pattern Analysis,
which is the study of networks and connections between the points. The third
part is the Surface Pattern Analysis which is about spatially continuous
phenomena (Legendre and Fortin, 1989). For this paper the focus will be on
Point Pattern Analysis.

Methodology and Data Used

To analyze
the distribution of hotels and attractions in Muscat it was important to have a
detailed listing of all hotels and attractions. The data was provided by the
Ministry of Tourism and included the boundaries of the Muscat Governorate and
its Wilayats, the hotels and the attractions of Muscat. For the analysis the
program ArcGIS was used.

In the
first step the general distribution of hotels and attractions was observed and
first conclusions were drawn. With the help of tools such as the Directional
Distribution, the Median and the Average Nearest Neighbour the area was further
analyzed to verify or falsify the first assumptions. To get a more detail
insight the most important Wilayats of Seeb, Bawshar, Mutrah and Muscat were
individually studied. Those Wilayats were used as in the others either no hotel
or attraction was present and therefore it was not logical to study a possible
relationship between both. Finally the results of the single Wilayats were
compared with the whole Governorate.

 

Results

The first
two maps show the distribution of hotels and attractions in the Governorate of
Muscat.

Figure 2: Hotels in Muscat Governorate

 

Figure 1: Attractions in Muscat Governorate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems
like that most attractions and hotels are spread along the coastline. The
attractions are more centred in the Wilayat of Mutrah and Bawshar, but still
reach to the very south of Qurayyat. There are not attractions in Al Amrat,
which is the only Wilayat without a coastline and in general only a few
attractions can be found further away from the coast. The hotels are more
centred in Bawshar and Seeb but there are not as far spreaded as the
attractions as there are no hotels in Quarayyat. However, there are hotels in
Al Amrat which leads to the assumption that the locations of hotels are not
completely dependent on the location and presence of attractions.

Seeb

The Wilayat
of Seeb is the most northern and biggest one. The following map shows the
location of all attractions and hotels:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is clear
that most hotels and locations are close to the coastline. One can furthermore
see that most hotels are centred around the most attractions. Only one
attraction which is more in the inland is not immediately surrounded by a
hotel. The direction distribution of hotels and attractions provides a more
detailed view on the distribution of both:

The red and yellow diamonds show the median value of the attraction and
hotel layer and are another indicator for a possible relationship of both. As
it can be seen, the diamonds are located very close together and this gives the
assumption that there is a connection between the distribution of hotels and
attractions.

One can
further see that both are distributed relatively similar along the coastline. A
reason for that could be the hotels are often considered attractive when they
are close to the beach. A further explanation provides the knowledge that the
Sultan Qaboos Highway runs more or less parallel to the coastline. It would be
logical for hotels and attractions to be positioned close to the Highway in
order to minimize travel time and to increase availability.

Finally I
had a look at the Average Nearest Neighbour of hotels and attractions. This
tool provides statement about the probability that objects are placed randomly.
The Average Nearest Neighbour for hotels in Seeb shows that those are clustered
and it is very unlikely that this happened by chance. The same result is shown
for the attractions. Therefore we can conclude that in Seeb a definite
relationship between the location of hotels and attractions exist.

 

 

 

Bawshar

Bawshar is
located south of Seeb. To its main attractions belong several shopping malls,
one of it being the Avenues Mall which is the biggest mall in Oman.

Figure 5: Hotels and
attractions in Bowshar

One can see
that even more than in Seeb hotels and attractions are grouped together and located
close to the coast. There are no hotels in the hinterland of Bawshar which
leads to the assumption that here we have a definite relationship between
hotels and attractions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The median
of attractions and hotels are again very close to each other and give the
impression that both layers must be connected. The directional distribution
confirms this and shows further that even though the attractions are wider
spread, the hotels are completely within the boundary of the attraction. This
confirms the assumption of a strong relationship between both which is further
supported by the Average Nearest Neighbour Analysis which gives for both data
sets the indication that they are clustered.

Mutrah

Mutrah is
the commercial center of Muscat Governorate. It is the most densely populated
Wilayat in all of Oman and an important destinations for tourists as it
contains the Port Sultan Qaboos (Cruise Tourism) and the Mutrah Souq which is
one of the most famous attractions in Oman.

Figure 7: Hotels and
Attractions in Mutrah

The figure
shows two areas of distribution in Mutrah. There are several attractions on the
western part and a few hotels, which are located directly at the coast. In this
case the location of the hotels might be less chosen because of the nearby
presence of the attractions but because of the beach, which is one of the most
beautiful in the city. On the eastern part the relationship between attractions
and hotels is very clear to be seen. The attractions are in a c-like shape and
all hotels surround the attractions and follow the shape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Average
Nearest Neighbour further proves that both data sets are clustered and increase
the impression that there is a relationship between the two of them.

However,
the directional distribution and the median center of hotels and attractions
give the assumption that the relationship is not as strong as in the previous
described Wilayats. The directional distribution eclipses are not overlapping
much and the median centres are far apart.

Muscat

The Wilayat
of Muscat, or called Muscat Old Town, lies between Mutrah and Qurayyat.

Figure 9: Hotels and
Attractions Muscat

As it can be seen on the map there are only a few attractions and hotels
present in this area. All attractions and hotels are located at the coast but
the attractions clearly centred in the north of the Wilayat. On the first
impression there seems to be no clear relationship between hotels and
attractions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The
directional distribution gives no clear indications about the relationship of both
data sets and also the medians are far apart which supports the fact that there
is no relation between hotels and attractions in this Wilayat. The Average
Nearest Neighbour Analysis supports this statement as it states for both data
sets that they are random and there is no cluster.

 

Conclusion

After
analysing the distribution of hotels and attractions in the different Wilayats
one can say that the distribution definitely not happened by chance. In most
cases hotels and attractions are clustered along the coastline and single
hotels or attractions are rare. The only exception is the Wilayat Muscat which
shows a random distribution of hotels and attractions. The Wilayats of Al Amra
and Qurayyat were excluded from the analysis as they have not sufficient data.
The following map shows the directional distribution and the median center of
hotels and attractions in the whole Governorate of Muscat and supports the
previously mentioned results.

Figure 11: Directional Distribution of hotels and
attractions in the Muscat Governorate

The
distribution of hotels and attractions is very similar along the coast. The
distribution of the hotels is nearly completely within the distribution of the
attractions. The attractions stretch further south. This could be because those
attractions might be of natural cause (e.g. Wadi). One can assume that in the
future the number of hotels will increase. As there are attractions in Qurayyat
but no hotels it is likely that someone considers this as a market gap and
builds hotels in this area. One can further assume that more hotels will be
build in the hinterland and away from the coast as those spaces are already
pretty crowded. Hotels that are not located at the beach are furthermore often
cheaper and provide therefore accommodation opportunities for another target
group. It would be interesting to repeat a study like this in the future. Then
one could also focus on the type of attraction (e.g. natural, manmade) and the
type of hotel.

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