Despite a number of slowing economies in Africa, the scramble to develop new hotels appears to continue unabated – which is good news for business and leisure travel to the continent.
The giant Marriott International chain confirmed last week that it plans to expand into seven new African countries between now and 2025. These are Gabon, Rwanda, Tunisia, Benin, Kenya, Libya and Mauritius. Marriot’s push for more African properties is part of a growth strategy that also includes the Middle East.
“We have ambitious plans for growth internationally, and the Middle East and Africa will play a large role in helping us achieve both our short-term and long-term targets,” said Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director for Middle East and Africa while attending an industry event in Dubai in late April. “We feel that where there is change, there is also opportunity. What will determine success within the hotel and hospitality industry is the ability to capitalise on that change, identify the opportunities and be nimble enough to leverage them.”
The chain said its development strategy would also mean higher employment levels and it expects to employ 21 000 people within the Middle East-North Africa region by 2018.
Marriott already has a strong presence in Africa and in 2014 it paid nearly US$190-million to acquire the South African-based Protea hotel chain. Apart from SA, Protea also operates in markets such as Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Last month the annual Hotel Chain Development Pipeline Survey reported that hotel development in Africa had increased by almost 30% in the past year and would bring the total number of hotel rooms available on the continent to 64 000 – up from the 49 000 rooms available in 2015.