Law Updates

New Tourism Law Issued

The full-text of the new Tourism Law was published in the Official Gazette today replacing the old Tourism Law of 2002. The new law simplifies the legal framework for tourism by abolishing the National Tourism Committee as well as the Tourism Development Fund, consolidates the various concepts for tourism offices and tour guides into tourism activities, removes references to the timeshare system, and increases the value of the fines that can be imposed against those who violate the law.

The first Omani Tourism Law was issued in the year 2002 and was never amended or revised until the promulgation of the new Tourism Law last week. Significant changes took place in the tourism sector in Oman during the two decades including the establishment and abolishment of the Ministry of Tourism and the consolidation of the mandate for heritage and tourism into a single ministry: The Ministry of Heritage and Tourism.

The new law does not make many substantive changes to the regulation of the tourism activities in the law itself, and instead adopts the approach of leaving the substantive regulatory provisions to the Executive Regulation of the Tourism Law. This approach offers the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism the flexibility of changing these provisions without having to comply with the constitutional requirements for amending a proper law.

The key changes of the new Tourism Law are the simplification of the legal framework to reflect the current government structure by abolishing the National Tourism Committee and the Tourism Development Fund. It is unknown if this committee or fund had any actual operations in recent years, but this royal decree now confirms formally abolishing them.

The new Tourism Law also removes all references to the timeshare system, which allows individuals to own the right to stay in a hotel or a tourist establishment for a certain time allotment every year. Again, we do not know if anyone has ever actually used this system or if licences for it were ever issued.

The Ministry of Heritage and Tourism appears to continue to require those providing tourism activities to obtain a licence. Unlike the previous law, the new Tourism Law itself does not provide a precise definition of what tourism activities mean.

Finally, under the old Tourism Law, the maximum fine payable under the law was 3,000 Rial Omani. Under the new law, the maximum fine payable is 50,000 Rial Omani, which can be doubled in the case of repetition. The new law also gives the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism the power to issue administrative penalties of a value up to 6,000 Rial Omani.

The new Tourism Law enters into force after 6 (six) months. It can be read in full in English on the link below: