Marriott International continues steady steady expansion in Africa
Marriott International has been aggressively expanding into Africa in recent years, and its efforts are showing no signs of slowing down after the company announced new plans in the form of seven hotel signings on the continent.
Africa has been targeted for expansion by many global hospitality companies in recent years as the number of visitors taking trips to the continent has steadily risen, but Marriott International was the first global chain to make a significant investment there when it acquired Protea Hotels for $210 million back in 2014. Currently, the company’s plans call for targeting more than 200 hotels in Africa with 37,000 rooms, equating to about $8.5 billion in capital investments. The overall goal is to have these properties either opened or within the company’s African pipeline by the year 2022 at the latest.
This aggressive expansion on the part of Marriott is proving to be mutually beneficial, according to most experts. As the hotel chain benefits from the increasingly friendly African hospitality conditions, the local economies in the regions where it is expanding will see a bump as well. In fact, analysts estimate that Marriott’s recent investments are expected to generate substantial economic activity in the form of about 50,000 direct or indirect jobs, once the hotels are built and opened.
“Africa today makes a very compelling story. We are seeing unprecedented traction for our compelling brands, driving our momentum of growth,” said Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International in a press release. “We have always believed in the potential of Africa and the opportunities the continent has to offer. With economic growth, a rising middle class and rapid urbanization, the demand for travel and high quality lodging is growing, providing us with a significant opportunity to enhance our footprint and play our part in supporting many emerging markets across the continent.”
Currently, Marriott International operates hotels in 20 African countries, a list that includes: Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. This list is likely to expand along with Marriott’s footprint in Africa, as the brand’s plans call for it to eventually host properties in Benin, Botswana, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal.
At present, Marriott International operates about 150 hotels with nearly 24,000 rooms. They have also established 12 separate brands throughout the continent. Hotel industry experts who have operated in Africa for some time largely agree that the same qualities that have made Africa so enticing to hotel owners and operators—its natural beauty, the untapped market, a lower cost of property relative to many other markets—are some of the same that have presented challenges. Things like infrastructure and qualified staff have been difficult for large brands like Marriott to secure, at least in a way that lives up to their global standards. But a rising tide lifts all boats, and so as more hospitality investments are made in the continent, the continent stands to became more accessible for future hospitality investments.
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