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Hilton Group sponsors Cape Town hotel investment conference based on confidence for Sub-Sahara Africa

Hilton Group sponsors Cape Town hotel investment conference based on confidence for Sub-Sahara Africa

The Hilton Hotel in Windhoek’s central business district and the nearly completed Hilton Garden Inn right next to it, are living testimony to the international hospitality group’s tourism expectations for Sub-Sahara Africa.

Tourism on the African continent is on the increase with four million new arrivals in 2016, bringing the number of visitors to 58 million, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Sub-Sahara Africa is leading this growth at +11%.

This perceived and anticipated growth lead Hvs, the global hotel consultancy to hold its next Tourism, Hotel Investment and Networking Conference, THINC Africa, in Cape Town.

The Hilton Group is a major sponsor of this industry platform.

The THINC Africa conference will take place on 30 and 31 August 2017 at the FNB Portside Building, in Cape Town’s iconic V&A Waterfront precinct.

“We are bullish on Africa and believe it represents a huge opportunity for us, with the emerging middle class, urbanisation trends and increased arrivals to the continent. We are entering new markets and bringing new brands and product into key countries, and expect to double in size across Africa in the next 5 years or so. We also see great opportunity for franchise agreements across the continent,” said Mike Collini, Vice President Development for Africa at Hilton.

“When we drilled down country by country we came up with about 150 potential developments. If you look at Hilton Garden Inn, for example, this is highly efficient in its design, and more importantly in its operational model. We’ve already opened our first hotel under this brand in North Africa and the first one in Sub-Sahara in Windhoek is scheduled to open later this year, we believe it is a perfect fit for Africa” said Collini.

He stated that the group is looking to develop in both existing and new markets including Cape Town, Johannesburg, Luanda and Lagos as well as looking at the possibility of managing lodges and resorts, with a focus on core capitals and commercial cities.

To deal with the challenges of development in Africa and to mitigate risk there are three fundamentals that need to be put in place, Collini said.

Tim Smith, managing partner of HVS Africa, emphasised that competent hospitality consultants need to be engaged “before you put a spade in the ground, because once you’ve put a spade in the ground you’ve started making decisions and often those decisions aren’t suitable or appropriate for the hotel brand”.

Collini confirmed that the Hilton Group is looking to grow with local strategic partners. “Currently, all of our ownership base and the people we work with are local, although we do foresee off-shore investment coming into hotels in Africa in the future.”

“Because training is not always easily accessible across Africa, it can be challenging to find the right partner, but the sheer size of the African continent means that you can’t physically look after all the regions from your home base, so franchisors and local partners with local expertise are essential to grow and nurture those markets” according to Smith.



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SADC Correspondent

SADC correspondents are independent contributors whose work covers regional issues of southern Africa outside the immediate Namibian ambit. Ed.