Swiss-Belhotel International is keenly eyeing the African market, with the aim of having a total of five hotels on the continent by the year 2021.
Senior vice president, operations and development – Middle East, Swiss-Belhotel International, Laurent A. Voivenel elaborated: We recently signed a management agreement with Zanzibar Crown Hotel and Resort Limited to operate the beautiful Swiss-Belresort Zanzibar that is expected to open for business in 2019. It will be among the few internationally branded resorts to operate on the island. In addition, we are in negotiation for some superb projects in various other parts of the continent.”
Recognising the huge potential Africa possesses in terms of hospitality, Voivenel explained that Africa is an exciting market because it is still in its infancy and there is plenty of room for growth.
“The tourism industry has been strengthened by both domestic and inbound travellers,” he explained. “The increase in intra-Africa travel is of particular interest for the hospitality sector because at least four out of every 10 travellers in Africa are from within the region. There has also been significant growth in visitors from China and India. At the same time, we are seeing a shift from business travellers to leisure travellers. Around 69 per cent of all travel spend in Africa last year was made by leisure travellers, with the remaining figure being business.”
Also stimulating this growth is better connectivity and access to low-cost carriers, explained Voivenel, as well as visa-free travel within the regions.
He added that there is a considerable shortage of quality mid-market hotels in Africa, and as the middle class grows, Swiss-Belhotel International is seeing higher demand for affordable accommodation, which it is eager to capitalise on.
Over the coming five years, Africa’s hospitality sector is anticipating further growth. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourist arrivals in Africa jumped by eight per cent in 2017, reaching 62 million. Arrivals grew by 13 per cent in North Africa, while Sub-Saharan Africa arrivals increased by five per cent. Further growth is expected in 2018.