Tourists stand in front of the Royal Opera on December 23, 2014 in the Omani capital Muscat. (AFP/Mohammed Mahjoub)
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From desert camping to luxury hotels, turtle-watching, and even the Arabian Peninsula's first Italian-style opera house, Oman is hoping to carve out a place on the global tourist track.Despite its natural beauty and rich culture, Oman's tourism industry has a long way to go.Western tourists like 46-year-old Marc Jost, who has made five trips to Oman, need no convincing.Oman attracted roughly 2.1 million visitors in 2013, up about 50 percent over the previous two years, according to the tourism ministry.Oman has suffered from a lack of tourism infrastructure and the belief among many tourists that the entire Middle East is off-limits because of unrest.For years, Oman said that by 2020 it aimed to attract 12 million tourists annually -- more than double the number that visited Jordan last year.Oman has already won over tourists like Markus Roloff, who hopes the government steers development carefully.The 47-year-old German made the first of his seven trips to Oman in 1990 .
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