(180112) -- BETHESDA, Jan. 12, 2018 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Jan. 11, 2018 shows the headquarters of Marriott International in Bethesda, Maryland, the United States. U.S. hotel chain Marriott's chief executive officer (CEO) apologized Thursday for listing Tibet, among other parts of China, as an independent country in a mail questionnaire, and promised to take measures to prevent such incidents. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu) (zf)

JOHANNESBURG - US multinational diversified hospitality company Marriott International on Monday announced expansion plans across Africa, saying strong demand for select-service brands and conversion opportunities are driving the momentum of growth.

Marriott said the expansion would be amplified by five new hotel signings, which would further consolidate its 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 percent with over 200 hotels and 38,000 rooms by 2023 estimated to generate 12,000 new job opportunities," it said at the Africa Hotel Investment Forum in Nairobi, Kenya.

Marriott International’s planned growth reinforces its commitment to Africa and underscores the substantial emphasis that countries across the continent are placing on the travel and tourism sector. The company estimates that the five new projects signed will drive investment of over $250 million by the property owners and will generate substantial economic activity.   

“Marriott International’s acquisition of Protea Hotels followed by the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has given an impetus to our organic growth on the continent," Marriott International President and managing director for Middle East and Africa Alex Kyriakidis said.

"Today we are seeing strong owner interest in our brands, backed by our combined loyalty program, the collective strength of our global platform and our highly-experienced, local teams."

He said African economies had sustained "unprecedented" rates of growth, mainly driven by a strong domestic demand, improved macroeconomic management and increased political stability.

"The continent is still under capacity as far as branded hotel supply is concerned, presenting us with a fantastic opportunity to grow our brands and enhance our footprint,” Kyriakidis added.

Marriott International is present in 21 African countries, including Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.

It is set to expand into new markets including Benin, Botswana, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mozambique and Senegal.

The company said it continued to see increased interest from owners looking to maximize the value of their assets quickly, with many conversion opportunities across Africa.

“The increasing demand for conversion deals from new and existing partners is a strong reflection of Marriott International’s powerful network, loyal customer base and commitment to deliver value for owners,” said Kyriakidis.

“We've developed a conversion-friendly strategy, which allows us to deliver value to our partners through a flexible, cost-efficient process that yields almost immediate results. That strategy gives our partners access to world-class reservation systems and our loyalty program.”

Recent conversions to the company’s brands include Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi, Hurlingham, Four Points by Sheraton Arusha, The Arusha Hotel, Tanzania and Mena House in Cairo which joined the Marriott Hotels and Resorts global brand portfolio earlier this year.

Amongst new conversion deals, Marriott International has signed the Marriott Marrakech hotel in Morocco which has over 360 rooms and is slated to be rebranded in 2020.

- African News Agency (ANA)