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Tourism in Nigeria, others set for sustained growth

The newly-opened Four Points by Sheraton in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom state
The newly-opened Four Points by Sheraton in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom state

The hotel and tourism industry in Nigeria as well as the rest of Africa is beginning a period of sustained growth, according to the sector’s leading experts gathered at the Africa Hotel Investment Forum in Addis Ababa.

The conference heard that inward international flights were recovering after being hit by the ebola outbreak. And the hotel sector reported significant expansion, as well as increased visitor numbers, boosted by demand from African business.

Now in its fifth year, AHIF (30 September to 1 October 2015)  brought together 500-plus leading international hotel investors, local operators, ministers, government officials and industry experts from around 40 countries.

The immediate good news came from ForwardKeys, which monitors future travel patterns by analysing 14 million reservation transactions each day. Its analysis showed there was an increase of 6.4% in international arrivals in September in Sub-Saharan Africa. The upturn marked a turning point after the ebola outbreak, which had wiped out four years of strong growth.

Flight bookings for the next six months suggest a sustained recovery. The data shows arrivals on-the-book (bookings for travel in future) from October 2015 to March 2016 are now running 4% ahead, compared with the same period last year.

The growing opportunities for investment in hotels on the continent were revealed in the African Hotel Report 2015. Hotel Partners Africa identified the top ten opportunities. Nigeria heads the list with the strongest economy, but with only 34 branded hotel bedrooms per million population. This compares with 6,754 branded hotel bedrooms per million population in North America and 2,432 bedrooms per million in Europe. Ghana with 59 bedrooms and Cote d’Ivoire with 61 bedrooms also present great opportunities with very strong unmet demand. [See Multimedia content: Supply of Branded Hotels in Africa (by Region)]

The 2015 African Hotel Valuation Index, released at the conference by HVS, revealed that the African hotel sector was becoming less reliant on foreign visitors with increased demand from local businesses. The Index showed African hotel brands such as Azalai, City Lodge and Protea were trading well, with a number of hotel investors showing faith in the continent.

The conference also heard the latest thought leadership research paper from JLL. It found the growth drivers for the hotel sector in Africa included:

-improved fiscal management

-favourable demographics (a population of 1.1billion)

-rapid urbanisation

-growing middle class

-rich commodity and energy resources

-considerable infrastructure investment

-increased tourism.

In another special market report, hotel consultants Horwath HTL said they expected a surge in projects in Cameroon ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations which will be held there in 2019.

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