Africa is becoming a hotel investment attraction
Africa is fast becoming a new tourist hotspot, being placed on the map as an investor’s paradise for leading hotels wanting to start business here.
According to research by the TopHotelProject database, which surveys the sector on continent, 116 hotel projects are in the planning phase, 155 projects are under construction, 36 projects are in pre-opening phase and 42 projects are near completion.
Horwath HTL South Africa director, Michele de Witt, whose company has worked on many projects including Carlson Rezidor, Hilton Worldwide, Tsogo Sun in Africa and Starwood Hotels and Resort, believe that the uniqueness of the continent are one of the reasons why one of the reasons why people want to invest.
“Africa remains a largely untapped market in terms of travel and tourism investment. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), of the estimated US$807 billion of investment in travel and tourism worldwide in 2016, sub-Saharan Africa only attracted an estimated US$17 billion or 2 percent.
“While some investors might consider investment in Africa risky, many investors are attracted by first mover advantage and the higher returns,” she said.
De Witt spoke about the many upsides to investment, including job creation, a source of foreign exchange into an economy and it being a driver behind better infrastructure and consumer of local products.
When asked what was her take on the hotel industry in Africa and what could be improved, she said it required an enabling environment in order to grow and develop.
“One of the biggest challenges for the hotel industry in Africa remains access into destinations; in particular air access. While air access has improved in the past decade, it can still take travellers from within the continent almost an entire day to travel to another country in Africa.
“In today’s fast-paced environment, this is not ideal. Nevertheless, it would appear many governments across the continent now understand the role travel and tourism can play in the economy and have set about to establish policy that contributes to a more favourable trading environment,” said De Witt.