Industry Update
Press Release17 June 2020

COVID-19 Threatens To Ruin A Record Year For Africa’s Hotel Developers

Tourism is such an important industry in Africa, because of the direct and indirect jobs that it creates and sustains, as well as its strong foreign currency earnings

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Bench Events

LONDON, United Kingdom - African hotel development had returned to growth at the start of 2020, with more than 78,000 rooms in 408 hotels in the pipeline, according to the 12th annual survey by W Hospitality Group, acknowledged as the industry's most authoritative source. However, the COVID-19 outbreak is now shattering the dreams of Africa's hotel industry.

W Hospitality Group's Managing Director, Trevor Ward, said: "The growth of the chains' presence in Africa has been a very positive story since we started this analysis in 2009. It is quite clear from the numbers that the chains, the developers, the investors - and all of us at W Hospitality Group! - continue to believe in the opportunities that Africa presents in the hotel and tourism industry. However, our industry has been devastated by the impact of COVID-19, possibly more so than most other economic sectors, mainly because of the almost total shutdown of borders and of the aviation sector - no flights means no guests."

"With that background, we see a slowdown in pipeline growth in 2020, as we all get to grips with the new reality. With so many of the players locked down, fewer deals will be signed, and it is inevitable that some of the planned openings in 2020 will be delayed, due to closed or slower-paced construction sites, restrictions on funding and a lack of market demand. According to our latest data, there are 90 hotels with 17,000 rooms scheduled to open in 2020, but we estimate that at least half of these will be delayed, bringing the actualisation rate down to no more than 40%."

This year's African Hotel Chain Development Pipeline survey covers 35 international and regional hotel contributors across the 54 countries in north and sub-Saharan Africa, and in the Indian Ocean islands. It reveals a 3.6% increase on the 2019 pipeline. Most encouraging was a record 68 chain hotels opening last year, fully 75% of those which were scheduled to open, with 11,000 rooms. That performance was substantially up from the 39% of those scheduled to open in 2018 actually doing so. Accor performed particularly well; it opened 18 hotels last year with almost 3,500 rooms in its various brands, ranging from Ibis to Fairmont.

The findings of the 2020 Pipeline report, together with a mid-year update, will be discussed in depth at Bench Events' new virtual conference, Africa Tomorrow (www.Africa-Tomorrow.com), to be held on 21st July. This event is complementary to the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), the leading hospitality investment conference in Africa, which has in previous years connected business leaders to serious investors, driving funds into tourism projects, infrastructure and hotel development across the continent.

Marriott, the world's largest hotel chain, has the largest pipeline in Africa, 22 percent more hotels and 6 percent more rooms than second-placed Accor, but Accor has been catching up fast, signing 25 new deals last year, compared to Marriott's 17 new projects.

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If Accor can open its hotels in 2020 at the same rate that it did in 2019, it is likely the company will overtake Marriott and position itself as the largest operator in Africa.

Trevor Ward said: "We have to wait and see what will happen in the second half of 2020, and in 2021, as we emerge from lockdown and other restrictions. Tourism is such an important industry in Africa, because of the direct and indirect jobs that it creates and sustains, as well as its strong foreign currency earnings. We are anxious to see hotels reopen and get back to contributing to the African growth story."

Matthew Weihs, Managing Director of Bench Events, which is staging Africa Tomorrow, said: "Right now, we are facing the biggest recession in history. For those seeking to operate hotels, it is a dreadful time. However, for the savvy investors, this is actually a moment of opportunity because hotels are a long-term investment and one of the secrets of success is to spend money during the bottom of the economic cycle in order to capitalise on the upturn as soon as it comes. That's one reason why I expect the networking sessions at Africa Tomorrow will be very busy and fruitful."

About W Hospitality Group

The W Hospitality Group (https://W-HospitalityGroup.com), a member of Hotel Partners Africa, specialises in the provision of advisory services to the hotel, tourism and leisure industries, providing a full range of services to clients who have investments in the sector, or who are looking to enter them through development, acquisition or other means. In sub-Saharan Africa the W Hospitality Group is regarded as the market leader due to the market and financial expertise of its staff, its worldwide knowledge, and its commitment to its clients. In Africa, W Hospitality Group has to date worked in 40 countries on the continent, from its Lagos and Addis Ababa offices.

About Africa Tomorrow

Africa Tomorrow (www.Africa-Tomorrow.com) is the premier virtual conference and networking platform for the continent's travel, hospitality and aviation sectors, attracting prominent international and regional industry decision makers. The event features a free-to-attend option for Africans or Africa-based businesses. It is organised by Bench Digital, a sister company of Bench Events (www.benchevents.com), that has delivered three digital conferences since April 2020 and countless webinars with a combined attendance of over 20,000 industry professionals. Bench Events has a long track record of delivering multiple premium hospitality and aviation business conferences across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

About Bench Events

Global event organiser Bench Events has a long track record of delivering multiple premium hotel investment conferences and forums across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Market leading annual conferences include the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Dubai, now in its 13th year, the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) the new Asia Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (AHTIC), The Summit in London and the Latin American Hotel & Tourism Investment Conferences (SAHIC). Bench Events" extensive portfolio also includes the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) in Dubai and AviaDev, designed to promote the future air connectivity in Africa. Bench Events" mission is enabling prosperity by facilitating growth, networking, and thought leadership in the hospitality industry worldwide. www.benchevents.com.

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David Tarsh
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