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Officials at the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) have released a report on the performance of the tourism sector in the country during the first quarter of 2012, revealing a 22 per cent increase in the number of GCC visitors to Doha.

According to the report, average hotel occupancy rates reached 64 per cent from January to the end of March, and revenues of four and five star establishments stood at QR734,349 million, an increase of QR32 million compared to the same period in 2011.

The report also revealed there are currently 112 hotels in the capital.

QTA chairman Ahmed Al Nuaimi said the report revealed the sector was growing to meet the demands placed on it.

“These statistics show that Qatar’s tourism and hospitality sector is going from strength to strength,” he explained.

“Qatar has established itself as a unique tourism destination as well as playing to our strengths as a business and sports tourism.

“The strong showing for our hotel sector shows how it is maturing ahead of the challenges we face in the next decade.”

According to the report, average hotel occupancy rates reached 64 per cent compared to 68 per cent during the first quarter of 2011.

But there has been a 12 per cent increase in the number of hotel facilities compared to last year, which consequently led to an increase in the number of hotel rooms and serviced apartments available on the local market.

There are currently 85 hotel facilities compared to 74 hotels in 2011 and their revenues are also stronger than for the same period last year.

Hotel sector statistics show that revenues of four and five star hotels from January to March 2012 were better than the 2011 results during the same period.

Four star hotel revenues increased by QR5 million reaching QR27 million, and five star hotels surged dramatically during the same period, reaching approximately QR32 million out of the total revenues during 2012.

In terms of GCC tourists visiting Qatar statistics reveal a 22 per cent growth rate in visitors during the first quarter of 2012.

Travellers from Saudi Arabia represented the majority of tourists from the GCC countries with 161,549 tourists for the first quarter of 2012, a 25.3 per cent increase.

Overseas visitor numbers also increased, especially from Asia. Asian tourists visiting Qatar registered the highest growth rate with a total of 36,385 visitors in the first quarter of 2012, followed by European tourists with a total of 10,456 tourists.

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Scheduled to open in the first quarter 2013, the hotels will be located in the commercial centre of Doha just 300 metres apart.

Shangri-La International Hotel Management Limited president and chief executive officer Greg Dogan said: “The opening of both Shangri-La and Traders hotel in Doha reconfirms our commitment to expansion in the Middle East. Our target is to build a regional presence and we are delighted to be opening two hotels in Doha in a prime location with such dedicated owners”.

Shangri-La Hotel, Doha will feature 252 guest rooms, 42 serviced apartments, an 840m² ballroom, and the group’s signature spa brand, Chi The Spa.

Restaurants will include a The Den, a piano bar; Sridan, a Middle Eastern food souk, Fuego, a Latin American outlet; and Shanghai Club, a Chinese restaurant/lounge.

The neighbouring Traders Hotel will offer 238 guest rooms including 44 suites and 84 serviced apartments with kitchenettes. Outlets include a sushi and noodle restaurant and steakhouse and recreation facilities comprise a health club and spa with indoor pool and sun deck.

Hong Kong-based Shangri La Hotels and Resorts owns and/or manages 72 hotels under the Shangri-La, Kerry and Traders brands.