Global Chains Snap Up Distressed Independent Hotels In Africa

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Despite the economic damage inflicted by the pandemic, hoteliers expect sub-Saharan Africa to remain a hot market for big-time lodging development, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday (Oct. 18).

Global hotel chains are eyeing sub-Saharan Africa as underserved and expect both leisure and business travel will grow after the pandemic. According to the report, those looking to broaden their footholds in the region include Marriott International, Radisson Hotel Group and the Paris-based Accor.

Trevor Ward, W Hospitality Group owner, a Lagos, Nigeria-based advisory firm, told WSJ: “I haven’t heard of anybody that says we aren’t interested in Africa anymore. The long-term play is fine.”

The Journal reported that in August 2020, Hilton Worldwide Holdings Chief Executive Christopher Nassetta said a bright spot among the overall devastation the industry is weathering has been consolidation produced by the closure of independent hotels.

In some cases, according to the Journal, hotels in sub-Saharan African maintained occupancy levels by filling rooms usually occupied by business or tourism travelers with healthcare workers. Hotel rooms also have been used as quarantine settings for travelers who have just arrived in countries.

In the United States, hotels have been hit so hard that approximately a quarter faced foreclosure in mid-August, real estate data provider Trepp reported at the time. While U.S. travelers were turning to motor homes and Airbnb in the third quarter, hotels remained unpopular by comparison.

In some cities, the hotel industry is suffering so much that municipal governments have been eyeing measures to prevent new hotel owners from laying off staff.

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