Opportunities for hotel development in Ivory Coast are at their strongest for a long time, as the country continues to bounce back from internal conflict.
That is the view of experts attending the new Forum de l’Investissement Hôtelier Africain in Morocco early next year.
The key factor in this assessment is the resurgence of Abidjan, as a French-speaking commercial centre, assisted by a growing airport with direct connection to the USA and good quality infrastructure for meetings, conferences and exhibitions.
The country has been edging its way towards a lasting political solution to the armed rebellion in 2002 that split the country in two.
As economic growth has been strong since 2012, between eight and 12 per cent, and political stability holds, investors are seeing new chances in a nation, strategically located on the southern coast of west Africa.
A detailed analysis comes from Horwath HTL, a global leader in hotel, tourism and leisure consulting, ahead of the new Forum de l’Investissement Hôtelier Africain in Marrakesh in February.
The conference, organised by Bench Events as a sister event to the long-established Africa Hotel Investment Forum, will focus on the markets of north and west Africa.
During the conference, Philippe Doizelet, Horwath HTL managing partner, hotels, based in Paris, will be sharing his expertise, gained from 300 development studies both in France and internationally.
His verdict on Ivory Coast is “there’s lots of potential for hotel development in the mid-term”.
The best opportunities, according to Horwath, are:
- In Abidjan, upscale hotels in Plateau and Cocody, international four-star hotels and mid-market hotels in Plateau, economy and midscale hotels in Marcory and Treichville, and along the major road axis in Cocody/Bingerville.
- Economy hotels in provincial cities like San Pedro, Bouake, Korhogo, Yamoussoukro.
- Midscale resorts, which are best adapted to MICE and domestic leisure activities in Bassam, Assinie and Jacqueville -near Abidjan - and Grand Bereby.
- Mixed used projects and or combos including aparthotels.
- Ecolodges within natural sanctuaries, natural parks and plantation estates (an emerging opportunity).
But the Horwath report warns that the overall tourism sector will not grow as rapidly as it should because of difficult accessibility due to poor roads; high prices of air connections and hotel accommodation, and low standards of quality, maintenance and services.
This is despite the country having 520 kilometres of spectacular coastline, eight national parks and six natural reserves, as well as four UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Consequently, the business travel segment is expected to be developed sooner because Ivory Coast is growing as a regional economic hub, and infrastructure projects are in train that will reduce travel times.
The overall economic environment is attractive too - strong GDP growth, outstanding assets in the agricultural sector (Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest exporter of cocoa), dynamic industry and a vibrant services sector, embracing telecoms, IT, banking and communications.
The current overall hotel supply in Ivory Coast remains limited despite significant growth since the end of the political crisis.
And there’s a need for more quality units with demand coming from Europe and Africa.
Doizelet added: “There are good opportunities to be had in Ivory Coast for the wise investor.
“Of course, there are pitfalls, but the FIHA conference provides a chance to thrash out all the issues.
“I’m looking forward to discussions in more detail with delegates.”
FIHA is aimed at helping countries develop their economies and support hospitality investment.
Matthew Weihs, managing director of Bench Events, said: “It will connect business leaders from the international and regional markets and drive investment in tourism, infrastructure and entertainment.”