In spite of challenges, Africa's hotel scene stays strong

Cape Town South Africa

Thanks to terrorism in North Africa and an Ebola outbreak in West Africa, last year was not great for Africa’s travel and hotel industries.

According to the 2016 edition of Tourism Highlights recently released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, international tourist arrivals in Africa are estimated to have decreased by 3 percent in 2015, bringing in $33 billion in international tourism receipts to maintain a 5-percent share in worldwide arrivals and a 3-percent share in tourism receipts.

Fortunately, Africa has not seen a commensurate downturn in investment. HVS Managing Partner Tim Smith pointed to his company’s African Hotel Valuation Index, which has plenty of good news for the continent.

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Last year, Accor announced a deal to open 50 hotels in Angola alone; Rezidor started 2016 by announcing the signing of a second Radisson hotel for Addis Ababa; Marriott, having taken Protea Hotels, is now merging with Starwood Hotels and Resorts; and Hilton announced several deals throughout the year, including their first Garden Inn properties in Nairobi and Gaborone.

Abu Dhabi-based hotel operator Rotana is also set to expand in Africa, with the 140-room M Avenue Arjaan by Rotana in Marrakech slated for Morocco in 2018. Rotana also has properties under development in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Lagos in Nigeria and Luanda in Angola. 

Local businesses are also profiting. Paul Jingo, owner of Jingo Safaris in Kenya, was part of a group that successfully brokered a successful, sustainable relationship between land owners, the Maasai community and the national parks to conserve wildlife and boost tourism in the region. “In Kenya, for example, we need to invest in more three-star properties within the countryside–there is a lot of potential in areas away from the major cities that are in need of a good hotel that can serve that special business traveller or a leisure client.” 

RELATED: Want to learn more about hospitality investment opportunities in Africa? The Africa Hotel Investment Forum is October 4-6, at the Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Center, in Kigali, Rwanda. To learn more and register, visit

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