PR fail – or refreshing modesty?

UPDATE: See the end of this story for an update.

Pictured right is Khasab Fort, a small, 17th-century Portuguese-built castle that sits on the waterfront at Khasab, a tiny Omani town overlooking the Strait of Hormuz at the head of the Gulf.

Last month Khasab Fort won the International Award at the 2010 Museums & Heritage Awards for Excellence at a ceremony in London, beating off competition from the Manchester United Experience, the Heineken factory tour and a Gallo-Roman Museum in Belgium. Well done, Khasab.

I’m only mentioning it because it surprised me, in these days of PR-driven communication agendas, that the Omani tourism people didn’t send out a press release trumpeting the victory. Not a peep, in fact. I only found about it because of one line at the bottom of a press release about something else entirely.

Was it – to adopt Twitter-speak – a “PR fail”? Possibly (even, let’s face it, probably), but since I’m a charitable soul it crossed my mind that it might be a case of refreshing modesty.

Khasab is way off most visitors’ beaten track – it’s a flight or a heck of a long drive from the Omani capital Muscat, and is in fact closer to Dubai (though still a three-hour drive from there). It’s small, rocky and remote – not far, in fact, from the islet where 19th-century British sailors went “round the bend” from the heat, aridity and isolation.

Frankly, the Omani tourism authorities have got bigger fish to fry than Khasab, in the shape of their Now Is The Time! campaign, and projections which place Oman as the world’s third-fastest growing tourism market this year.

Maybe they’re just, well, playing it cool, not drawing attention to an out-of-the-way provincial heritage museum because, well, nobody goes to Khasab for the fort – they go for the fjords, the dolphins, the dhow trips.


Nah. PR fail.

UPDATE: As the comments on this story show, I have an apology to make – far from a PR fail, this shows just how out of touch I really am. It seems that releases went out (but I missed them) and the story was headline news in Oman (but I missed it). Apologies to all concerned for my mistake; all unfounded accusations are withdrawn and no inference should be made, other than to the author’s competence.