Many world-renowned top-class hotels have been paying more attention and allocating more resources in Africa. In a report by Bloomberg, big names such as Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide are turning to Africa. This trend, according to the business magazine, owes to a growing middle class and rising travel. Six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies being African countries, the continent has seen a sharp increase in business, both domestic and international, calling for an increase in hospitality.
Marriott plans a 55 per cent increase in its hotel rooms on the continent while Hilton, the largest operator on the continent, is planning on providing 6230 rooms at 23 hotels in different countries. According to Rudi Jagersbacher, Hilton’s president for the African region, the hotelier plans to have hotels in all major African cities. He stresses that overall growth in business and commerce is fuelling the demand for quality hospitality. Starwood Hotels, amongst its hotels worldwide, recorded the highest revenue in Africa and the Middle East. The multinational plans to increase its properties in Africa from 38 to 50 by 2016. Frits van Paasschen, CEO of Starwood Hotels, admits that there are several growth indicators on the continent, Africa being one of the regions left behind by global development twenty years ago.
Apart from having a substantial emerging middle class, the steady rise in tourism and the constantly growing urban population are key factors favouring an increase in hotel infrastructures across the continent. Most governments across the continent have been embarking on expanding the tourism industry through the development of road infrastructures and accessibility to remote areas over the years. This has gone a long way in boosting tourism, as well as the increased need for hotels. African countries having one of the lowest median age groups (18 to 25), there is a great influx of this young, working age population into major cities, thus boosting the labour force, trade and demands for lodging.
With a saturating European and American market, investors are increasingly turning to Africa for the vast business opportunities she offers. There has been a steady growth in the gross national product of most African countries south of the Sahara. The Economist intelligence unit forecasts a growth of 5 percent a year through 2016 in most African countries. This steady economic boom in the region attracts investors the world over, hoteliers included. The increasing investments on the continent will go a long way to create jobs, both in the construction, industrial and service sectors and ensure a rise in the standard of living of the African populace in general.
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