Mega-Cruise Tourism and Overtourism in Souq Muttrah, The Sultanate of Oman

Authors: Manuela Gutberlet*, German University of Technology in Oman
Topics: Tourism Geography, Middle East, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: cruise tourism, overtourism, local community, marketplace, authenticity, qualitative methods, Sultanate of Oman
Session Type: Paper
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The research paper analyses overtourism in a fast changing tourist site in the Sultanate of Oman, conceptualized in local community perceptions, memories and representations. Cultural brokers like shop vendors, business-owners and tour guides are seen as local agents. Their perspectives are analyzed within a capitalist, neoliberal development, reinforced since the arrival of mega-cruise tourism in the Sultanate of Oman in 2004. The souq is the oldest marketplace in Oman and one of the top tourist destinations, located opposite to the cruise terminal. The construction of a new 2$ billion Waterfront Development will start by the end of 2019. The research is part of a long-term qualitative ethnographic research project on cruise tourism development conducted between 2012-2014 and 2017-2019. How does the local multi-ethnic community experiences the spatial and social changes? How authentic is the souq for them? Results indicate that mega-cruise tourism has created overtourism through overcrowding and a monoculture of shops, where the number of Omani shop vendors decreased and sale of locally hand-made products as well as Omani coffee, as did social values and traditional community ties. The souq transformed into a hypbrid space and culture. For more community-based tourism, it is recommended to decrease mega-cruise tourism and to include all members of the multi-ethnic community and their authenticities.

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