According to the UNWTO Tourism Highlights: 2018 Edition, international tourist arrivals in sub-Saharan Africa have grown by 5.8 per cent from 2005 to 2017, which is well above the global average of 4.2 per cent. The continent saw a sustained growth of 9 per cent in international tourist arrivals last year.
Domestic travel is expected to grow due to the Single African Air Travel Market (SAATM) initiative launched earlier this year. UNCTAD’s Economic Development in Africa Report 2017 noted four out of 10 travellers in Africa originate from the region, which isn’t bad news considering Africa's working-age population is predicted to reach almost two billion by 2060. With the SAATM initiative, this number is expected to rise, fuelling demand for mid-market options in the continent’s bustling centres and regional hubs such as Nairobi, Lagos, Addis Ababa, and Johannesburg.
Leveraging global flight reservation information, travel data company Forward Keys has stated long-haul international flights to Nairobi have grown by 8 per cent as businesses take advantage of the recent multi-million-dollar expansion of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and newly announced routes from Amsterdam, Paris, London, and Accra.
All major hotel chains are all keen on Africa, and here is a look at the top contenders.
Hilton has been operating continuously in Africa since 1959 and is committed to long-term sustainable growth across the continent. With 53 properties in its development pipeline Hilton expects to double its portfolio of hotels on the continent during the next five years, including entering new markets such as Botswana, Ghana, Swaziland, Uganda, Malawi and Rwanda.
Hilton is seeing strong demand for its brands in Africa and expects to open eight hotels in total across Africa this year, three of which will fly under the Hilton Garden Inn flag. This brand appeals to the rising tide of middle-class travellers and the company expects to open at least 16 Hilton Garden Inn hotels in the coming five years, including brand entries in Kampala, Ghana, Malawi, eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) and many other strategic locations in sub-Saharan Africa.
Last year, Hilton launched the Hilton Africa Growth Initiative, which will support the conversion of existing hotels to Hilton brands with an investment of $50 million over five years. During that period, Hilton expects to secure 100 conversion opportunities with some 15,000 to 20,000 rooms added to its portfolio to meet the growing need for quality branded hotels across the continent.
Strong demand for select-service brands and conversion opportunities are driving the momentum of African growth for Marriott, amplified by five new hotel signings. The new signings will further consolidate Marriott International’s presence in Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa and mark the company’s entry into Mozambique. The signings put Marriott International on track to increase its portfolio by 50 per cent with over 200 hotels and 38,000 rooms by 2023 estimated to generate 12,000 new job opportunities.
Recent conversions to the company’s brands include Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi, Hurlingham, Four Points by Sheraton Arusha, The Arusha Hotel, Tanzania and the iconic Mena House, Cairo which joined the Marriott Hotels and Resorts global brand portfolio earlier this year. Among new conversion deals, Marriott International has signed the Marriott Marrakech Hotel in Morocco.
Marriott International’s select-service brands, including Four Points by Sheraton, Protea Hotels by Marriott and AC Hotels by Marriott, are experiencing unprecedented demand with vigorous expansion in both mature and emerging markets.
Marriott International has signed two new hotels under the Protea Hotels by Marriott brand including Protea Hotel by Marriott Accra Kotoka Airport, Ghana and Protea Hotel by Marriott Nairobi, Kenya. The company also signed Four Points by Sheraton Nampula, Mozambique, which will be its first hotel in the country. Later this year, Marriott International will debut the AC by Marriott brand into Africa with the opening of the 188-room AC by Marriott Cape Town, Waterfront.
RADISSON HOTEL GROUP
Radisson Hospitality has announced the signing of 10 news hotels in Africa during 2018.
Radisson Hotel Group’s growth strategy in Africa is a key initiative in Destination 2022, the Group’s five-year strategic operating plan, with the goal of becoming one of the top three hotel companies in the world. The Group has 90 hotels and 18,000+ rooms in operation and under development across 31 countries, and plans to reach 130 hotels and 23,000+ rooms in Africa by 2022.
Andrew McLachlan, senior vice-president, development, Sub-Saharan Africa, Radisson Hotel Group, said: “We are thrilled to be announcing 10 new hotel deals in just nine months, which equates to at least one new signing every month. Each signing is strategically aligned to deliver our five-year development plan, through new market entries, the introduction of new brands and delivering scaled growth in Africa’s key destinations. So far this year, we will be adding 1,300+ rooms to our portfolio in Africa and plan to continue this accelerated growth through further expansion in key markets across this this flourishing continent.”
HYATT HOTELS CORPORATION
Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced that nine additional Hyatt-branded hotels are expected to open in Africa by the end of 2020. Fulfilling last year’s goal for the Kenyan market, the announcement focuses on the first dual-branded Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotels on the continent, the return of the Hyatt brand to Cairo, new Park Hyatt and Hyatt Regency hotels in Morocco, and Hyatt hotels in three new countries: Algeria, Ethiopia, and Senegal.
Africa, and particularly East Africa, remains a focus for Hyatt with an increasingly favourable business climate.
Of Hyatt’s expected nine new hotels, five are market entries. Algeria: Hyatt Regency Algiers Airport (expected to open in Q1 2019), Ethiopia: Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa (expected to open Q4 2018), Kenya: Hyatt Place Nairobi/Westlands and Hyatt House Nairobi/Westlands (expected to open in 2020), and Senegal: Hyatt Centric Dakar (expected to open in Q1 2019).
In Africa’s established markets, Hyatt is expanding its brand footprint in Cairo: Hyatt Regency Cairo West (expected to open in 2020), Morocco: Park Hyatt Marrakech (expected to open in 2020) and Hyatt Regency Taghazout (expected to open in Q3 2019), and Tanzania: Hyatt Regency Arusha (expected to open in mid-2019).