Stories by Demola Ojo
Hotel and hospitality industry stakeholders in Africa who recently met in Tanzania have said that the African continent remains the world’s most attractive investment area in tourism despite the low figures of tourist inflow from key global travel markets. This was during the Fourth Annual Africa Hotel Expansion Summit and Hospitality Round Table in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. This is as Marriott International announced six new property signings across Africa so far in 2016.
The investors stated that the continent is endowed with diversified natural resources, attractive geographical features, and rich history and cultures – all of which attract international tourists.
The hotel and hospitality industry executives also harped on the need for intra-Africa travel packages to attract tourists within the continent.
“Africa needs to encourage intra-Africa travel programs that would attract more people to travel from one country to another country within the continent,” said Amaechi Ndili, President and Chief Executive Officer, Lionstone Group and Golden Tulip West Africa Hospitality Group in Nigeria.
“We need to stimulate intra-Africa tourism and business travel while governments across the continent take serious steps and policies to create more open skies for Africans,” Ndili noted.
The hotel executives further noted that more than 80 percent of Africans don’t know tourist attractive sites available in their own countries compared to Europe, America, and other continents where the citizens outnumber foreign tourists. Nigeria is the leading country in Africa to generate outbound tourists to other countries within the continent, mostly to other West African states, as well as East and Southern Africa.
Kenya was rated among top African countries looking to develop tourism by encouraging its residents to visit attractive sites within this country and book the hotels as a move to attract more hotel and accommodation investments.
Rwanda is another African country rated with friendly and positive growth in the tourism and hospitality industry in Africa. Top-level international investors, business leaders, hotel industry experts, and travel market leaders from the world are currently focusing their eyes on Rwanda.
Kigali, the Rwandan capital, has been rated the most attractive city in Eastern Africa for the global hospitality industry. Several international conferences and gatherings have been held there, attracting a high level of tourists from Africa and other parts of the world.
Among the key global gatherings to hold in Kigali later this year is the 41st Congress of the Africa Travel Association (ATA) to be held in Kigali from November 14 to 17 and which is expected to bring delegates from Africa, the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world.
To be held with the theme “Destination Africa: The Future of African Tourism,” the ATA’s 41st Congress is set to focus the East African region as the single tourist destination in Africa best for a combined African safari.
Meanwhile, Marriott International has continued to pursue an ambitious growth strategy across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region announcing an impressive 14 new property signings so far in 2016. The latest collection of signings will see Marriott International expand its Middle East footprint by eight properties across the UAE, Egypt, Qatar and Kuwait, encompassing the Marriott Hotels, Courtyard by Marriott, Marriott Executive Apartments, Residence Inn by Marriott and Protea Hotels by Marriott brands.
The company has also announced further growth to its African pipeline with the signing of six new properties under the JW Marriott Hotels, Autograph Collection and Protea Hotels by Marriott brands.
“Our 2016 property signings further illustrate the scale of our ambition to expand as a leading travel company within the Middle East and Africa as well as internationally,” said Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa of Marriott International. “This is driven by a clear objective to increase representation in all major gateway cities, commercial centers and established resort destinations while catering to a wide variety of market segments. Each of Marriott International’s brands, including those hotels in ourpipeline, target a specific segment and support the increased inflow of travelers into the hotel’s location.
Within the Middle East, Marriott International currently operates a total of 40 properties spanning eight brands. Today’s announcement will add a further five properties to Marriott International’s UAE presence as well as one property each in Egypt, Qatar and Kuwait.
In Africa, Marriott International’s acquisition of Protea Hospitality Holding in 2014 is continuing to yield positive returns as the company signs a further six hotels in 2016 adding 1,040 rooms to its Africa pipeline. That pipeline will include two properties in Uganda and one property each in Nairobi, Botswana, Zambia and South Africa. Amongst the signed properties is a JW Marriott brand hotel in Nairobi and an Autograph Collection hotel in South Africa.
Aside from the 14 new property signings in 2016, Marriott International has also confirmed that 11 new properties are set to open across the Middle East and Africa in Q4 2016. This will include Al Forsan Marriott Hotel in Abu Dhabi, Fes Marriott Hotel in Morocco, Accra Marriott Hotel in Ghana, La Ville Hotel & Suites City Walk, Dubai, Autograph Collection; Lapita Hotel Dubai, Autograph Collection; Courtyard by Marriott Riyadh Olaya in Saudi Arabia, and Renaissance Lagos Ikeja Hotel in Nigeria.
By 2020, Marriott International plans to add a further 74 properties and approximately 16,169 rooms within the Middle East and Africa region bolstering its total regional footprint to 221 properties and 40,816 rooms.