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Marriott International ups the game in Africa

Mar 06 2017 14:54
Carin Smith

Cape Town - The latest plans of Marriott International in Africa reflects the hotel group's confidence in the region.  

South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya are earmarked for substantial new hotel developments, and Marriott is also looking at opportunities in new markets such as Madagascar, Mauritius and Senegal.

An announcement is also expected soon about a new Marriott-branded venue in South Africa, which remains at the forefront of Marriott’s African presence.  

“We at Marriott International have looked to the promise of the Middle East and Africa region for a good few years now. Our presence in the Middle East is now substantial and constantly growing, and we began a rollout of new properties in sub-Saharan Africa in 2014, with the acquisition of South African-based Protea Hotels.” said Alex Kyriakidis, ‎president, Middle East and Africa, at Marriott International.  

The more recent acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts has provided Marriott with an even greater footprint in Africa.

Kyriakidis said a contributing factor has been the significant change in parts of the sub-continent, where particular countries are enjoying political stability and are free of conflict for the first time in recent years.  

“This allows for economic growth and a consequent increase in business travel. At the same time, the international leisure traveller has demonstrated enthusiasm for visiting many parts of the continent, too,” he explained.

READ: Billions for new mixed use precinct in Cape Town

Increasing travel within and into the continent is heavily dependent on air access, and many airlines have added new flights to various parts of the sub-continent. However, there is still room for increasing air access even further, in his view.

Population growth in Africa is significant – increasing by over 30 million people a year – and in certain parts of the continent, this comes together with increasing wealth. A new middle class is emerging – offering great potential for the hospitality industry in the years to come.

“This is a new market for both regional travel and for outbound travel from the continent. We are also seeing a realisation among some governments that they need to diversify their economies so that they do not continue to rely so heavily on resources. They understand the benefits that tourism can bring,” said Kyriakidis.

“Our presence is geared to provide accommodation and business conferencing facilities to a wide variety of market segments. The growth will happen in major gateway cities, commercial centres, as well as in resort destinations.”

He used Rwanda as an example of a state which is welcoming business and opening up significantly to tourism.

The Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) will, for instance, take place alongside AviaDev Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, from October 10 to 12.

According to Bench Events, the organiser, the event was established last year as a meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) hub in the region. AHIF attracts more than 500 executives from 45 countries. AviaDev facilitated over 500 conversations between airlines, government officials and airports to discuss new aviation routes.

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marriott  |  africa  |  hotels  |  travel and leisure  |  tourism
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