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AHIF: Boom time for African hotel investment

AHIF: Boom time for African hotel investment

When delegates arrive at the Africa Hotel Investment Forum they could be forgiven for feeling like players in a giant, complex game of Monopoly.

Research just released by W Hospitality Group, a founding member of Hotel Partners Africa, reveals that there are 40,000 rooms being planned or constructed on the African continent from now to 2017.

The top city for construction is Lagos, Nigeria, which has 4,080 rooms in development.

This is followed by two Egyptian destinations, Cairo, with 2,843 rooms and Hurghada with 2,221 rooms.

The next most popular places are Abuja (1,598 rooms), Algiers (1,528 rooms), Tangier (1,505 rooms) and Nairobi (1,437 rooms).

Alex Kyriakidis, president, Middle East & Africa Continent, Marriott International, explains: “The African continent presents Marriott International with substantial opportunities for growth.

“With one billion people, the majority of whom are Gen X and Y, seven of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world and very low penetration by branded hotels, the opportunity for the hospitality industry to support the demand for travel, as the middle classes grow from 300 million today to one billion by 2050, is key to the continent’s economic success and the prosperity of its people.”

The trends and challenges of hotel development in Africa will be scrutinised in detail at AHIF, which brings together the leading international hotel investors in Africa with local operators, tourism ministers, government officials and industry experts.

AHIF 2012 attracted 426 delegates from 38 countries, representing 310 organisations and several networking contacts made there have since resulted in deals.

Sponsorship and registration levels for AHIF 2013 indicate the conference will grow significantly this year, as an increasing number of business people want to get in on the game and play real live Monopoly in Africa.

W Hospitality Group and HPA founder, Trevor Ward, paints a more nuanced picture: “The most interesting thing to look at in the numbers is not so much the scale of the development pipeline but how things are changing from city to city.

“Lagos and Abuja contribute to Nigeria being the number one country but delays in completing hotels there can be extreme, and not all of the pipeline can be said to be certain to happen.

“Two Egyptian cities are in the top three and four are in the top 20 but note that several projects were commenced before the most recent uprisings.

“In Marrakech, growth has slowed down, but bear in mind that several new hotels have recently opened there. Development in Addis Ababa is taking off - historically the country has not been an easy place to do business, but the chains are now getting deals done.”

AHIF takes place in Nairobi on September 23rd-25th 2013.