Competing to win a share in global tourist market, Africa is looking at best strategies to attract more investors in hotel industry during the forthcoming Africa Hotels Investment Forum (AHIF) which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya later this month.
Africa’s share of global tourism is relatively small, with only 50 million tourists traveling to the continent last year, out of 980 million international travelers, according to United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
But, tourism experts, including economists, see Africa lacking in tourist infrastructure, mostly hotels and lodges, which are the most needed facilities to cater to tourists calling to visit Africa’s premier tourist attractions.
Bench Events and The Kenya Tourist Development Corporation have organized the first-ever hotels and accommodation establishments gathering, the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) to be hosted in Nairobi on September 25 and 26 at the InterContinental, with great hopes to attract more investors in Africa.
Ian Goldin, the Oxford University professor has named Africa as a new investment hot spot. Speaking ahead of AHIF, Professor Goldin forecasted that in the period from 2012 to 2020 Africa will be the fastest growing continent.
The former economic adviser to South African former president Nelson Mandela, Professor Goldin will help to look into the future and extrapolate useful implications from the major trends for the hotel industry.
Speaking ahead of the AHIF event, he forecasts that the period between this year and 2020 will see Africa being the fastest growing continent, experiencing the rapid growth in the consumption of consumer goods, having the greatest improvements in investment climate and observe its population growing to double that of Europe.
He forecasts that Africa in the next seven or eight years to come will have the world’s youngest labor force and in the following decades its size will overtake China’s and India’s, while inequality within Africa will decrease while in the rest of the world it will increase.
“The changes taking place in Africa are truly dramatic. For example, in the early 1980s, over 30 countries were ruled by autocrats and there were few democracies; by the late 1990s, that statistic was reversed”, he says.
“Africa is now the fastest-growing technology market in the world and new IT businesses are appearing at such a rate, that there are stories about a shortage of suitable office accommodation in Nairobi, which is the center of the emerging IT industry”, Professor Goldin added.
Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench Event said that GDP growth in Africa is around six percent per year, which is well in excess of most developed Western economies but one wonders how long that can continue.
“Professor Goldin will help us look in to the future and extrapolate useful implications from the major trends for the hotel sector. For example, with a rapidly growing labor force, will there be strong growth in intra-regional travel and hence a higher demand for hotel accommodation and, if so, by how much? What will happen to property prices and interest rates and what will cause the current explosion in hotel development to slow?” Worsley added.
“These and many more questions will be answered at AHIF, which is the premier hotel investment conference in Africa, attracting many prominent international hotel owners, investors, financiers, management companies and their advisers”, he said.