Africa tourism set for sustained growth

The hotel and tourism industry in Africa is beginning a period of sustained growth, according to the sector’s leading experts. Participants at the recent Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) in Addis Ababa heard that inward international flights were recovering after being hit by the ebola outbreak. And the hotel sector reported significant expansion, as well as increased visitor numbers, boosted by demand from African business.

Now in its fifth year, AHIF (30 September to 1 October 2015) brought together 500-plus leading international hotel investors, local operators, ministers, government officials and industry experts from around 40 countries.

The immediate good news came from ForwardKeys, which monitors future travel patterns by analysing 14 million reservation transactions each day. Its analysis showed a 6.4 percent upturn in international arrivals in September in sub-Saharan Africa. The upturn marked a turning point after the ebola outbreak, which had wiped out four years of strong growth.
Flight bookings for the next six months suggest a sustained recovery. The data shows arrivals on-the-book (bookings for travel in future) from October 2015 to March 2016 are now running 4 percent ahead, compared with the same period last year.

The growing opportunities for investment in hotels on the continent were revealed in the African Hotel Report 2015, which was launched at the forum by Hotel Partners Africa. It identified the top ten opportunities with Nigeria heading the list with the strongest economy, but with only 34 branded hotel bedrooms per million population. This compares with 6,754 branded hotel bedrooms per million population in North America and 2,432 bedrooms per million in Europe. Ghana with 59 bedrooms and Cote d’Ivoire with 61 bedrooms also present great opportunities with very strong unmet demand.

The 2015 African Hotel Valuation Index, released at the conference by global hospitality intelligence firm HVS, revealed that the African hotel sector was becoming less reliant on foreign visitors with increased demand from local businesses. The Index showed African hotel brands such as Azalai, City Lodge and Protea were trading well, with a number of hotel investors showing faith in the continent.

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