Muscat: Leading British hotelier Gordon Campbell Gray has signed a deal to bring a luxury boutique hotel to Oman's Blue City complex.

This was announced yesterday by the promoters of the $15 billion seat-front project that is expected to provide a great fillip to the Omani government's efforts to promote tourism as an alternate source of national income.

The government aims to grow the tourism sector's contribution to at least five per cent of GDP by 2020.

The proposed hotel at the Blue City will be designed, equipped and managed by Gray.

British tourists to Oman are the fastest-growing group from Europe and account for 37 per cent of the European hotel guests coming to the Sultanate.

Gordon Campbell Gray shot to fame in 1998 when he opened London's leading luxury business hotel called One Aldwych in the heart of the city.

Since then he has opened a second hotel on the Caribbean island of Antigua.

The hotel at the Blue City would be Gray's third property.

The proposed luxury beachfront hotel will have a site area of 33,500 square metres, with overall development costs put at $60 million.

The hotel will offer 121 rooms and offer employment for up to 350 people. It is scheduled to open in the winter of 2008-09.

It has been only five months since the huge Blue City project was announced in June and already planning is far advanced so work can begin within weeks on the $1.9 billion Phase One.

The promoters claim the Blue City project, to be completed in 15 years, is the biggest urban and lifestyle development scheme in the Gulf region.

The 35 square km Blue City is centred at Al Sawadi on the Omani coast, about 100 km northwest of Muscat.

When completed, the Blue City will house about 250,000 people and bring in two million tourists a year.

Phase One of this visionary project focuses on 5.5 square km and includes strategic seed investments in the tourism and residential sectors and all related technical and social infrastructures.