Press Release

09 Jan 2013

Investor Confidence High Following AHIF

Research recently undertaken in to the opinions of leading executives from both the public and private sectors following the African Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), which took place in Nairobi in September, reveals high levels of confidence in the tourism prospects for Africa in general and Kenya in particular.

Bench Events, the organiser of AHIF, consulted with a panel of top individuals three months after the conference to gauge investor sentiment and discovered a high degree of optimism for 2013 and beyond. Marianne Ndegwa Jordan, CEO, Kenya Tourist Development Corporation, declared: “This event succeeded in focusing the world's attention on the investment opportunities in tourism available in Kenya and Africa as a whole…Kenya has now been positioned as an investment hub for the African continent. This is evident from the commitment shown by leading brands in putting up hotels in Nairobi and other parts of the country. These include leading operators like Emaar, Kempinski, Marriot and Radisson Blue among others.”
Her view was mirrored by the private sector, with Trevor Ward, CEO, W Hospitality Group, which produces an annual report on the hotel development pipeline, saying: “I expect Africa to attain an even higher profile in terms of opportunities for hotel development, with investors recognising that risk can be managed, with the profits in Africa second to none globally.” Bani Haddad, Regional VP – Middle East & Africa, Wyndham Hotel Group concurred: “We are very excited about the development opportunities in Africa for 2013. We are seeing a lot of activity, especially in East Africa. We believe that a number of very exciting projects will open next year in that area.”

What is it about Africa that is spurring such enthusiasm? In a word, growth. Economic growth in Africa is around 6%, several times higher than that in many highly developed Western economies. Haddad says: “Africa is the next market we should be in. It's a growing market, international hotel companies are under represented and returns are high.” Philippe Doizelet, Managing Partner at Horwath HTL, Paris, goes even further: “The African market, regardless of the very uneven level of stability of countries, is one of the most attractive areas for hotel development in the world.”
Given the well-documented political turmoil in several African countries, could this optimism be somewhat overblown and attributable simply to a successful conference that “brought together all the decision makers under one roof”, described by one delegate as “fantastic networking opportunities at a well-attended event”? “I don’t think so.” Replies Matthew Weihs, Bench Events, Managing Director, who undertook the study. “We tried to rule out post event euphoria by waiting three months before asking follow up questions.”

AHIF was considered to have been a great success by private sector participants, who praised it for attracting the major players, flagging up specific opportunities and facilitating dialogue about hospitality projects. Elizabeth Randall Winkle, Managing Director of STR Global, which monitors and benchmarks hotel sales data, said: “We benefitted from networking, observing and learning throughout the conference. We generated several business leads, some of which have already yielded positive results.” Ewan Cameron, CEO Lonrho Hotels, also identified tangible commercial gains: “Specifically we were able to progress multiple projects in East Africa and identify a new project in Lagos during the 2012 Forum.”

However, was hosting it a worthwhile use of public money? Marianne Ndegwa Jordan evidently thinks so: “Several deals were concluded during and after AHIF. These will have far reaching effects in employment creation due to the high employment multiplier that tourism investment creates. There will also be forward and backward linkages in the economy thereby creating wealth for the suppliers of goods and services to the tourism value chain… It will also enhance the quality and standard of the tourism product on the continent due to the enhanced competition… I expect that tourism arrivals to Kenya and the continent will go up and the interest of the top brands to invest in Africa will continue to grow.”

AHIF moves to a different African city every year showcasing high-growth destinations across the continent. Confirmed sponsors of AHIF 13 include: Accor, Calibra Hospitality Cosultancy, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Hilton Worldwide, Horwath HTL, Hotel Partners Africa, Hotel Spec, Hyatt International LLC, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Jones Lang LaSalle, Lonhro Hotels Kenya Limited, Marriott International Inc, Premier Inn Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc, STR Global, W Hospitality and Wyndham Hotel Group.

ENDS

About Bench Events
In addition to the next Africa Hotel Investment Forum, Bench Events is one of the organisers and founders, alongside Questex Travel + Hospitality and MEED Events, of several well-known conferences for the hotel investment industry including Berlin (IHIF), Dubai (AHIC), Istanbul (CATHIC) and Moscow (RHIC). www.benchevents.com

Further Information
For further information and high resolution images, please contact: David Tarsh, David@Tarsh.com +44 (0) 20 7602 5262, +44 (0) 7770 816 070 or Joanne Howell, joanne.howell@benchevents.com, +44 (0) 7813 164 649.