By Ogova Ondego
Published October 7, 2014
Although black Africa is ripe for hotel investment, lack of adequate skilled labour is seen as a threat to the sector’s overall future growth.
A conference bringing together hoteliers, investors, developers and senior public sector leaders to network, promote hotel projects and engage on matters pertaining to hotel development in Sub Saharan Africa has identified ‘negative perceptions about hospitality as a career option’, the ‘gap between educational institutions and the hospitality industry’ and ‘limited knowledge about the Continent and its vast product offerings from a hospitality point of view’ as some of the obstacles to the development of the hospitality sector in Africa south of the Sahara desert.
The 8th annual Hotel Investment Conference Africa (HICA), which brought together some 300 delegates to the South African commercial capital of Johannesburg September 14-16, 2014, not only discussed various investment options in sub-Sharan Africa but major investors like Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Taj International Hotels Limited and Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group announced their plans to invest in Africa’s leading economies—South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia—over the next five years.
While Starwood Hotels & Resorts plans to add as many as 20 hotels—mainly 5-star properties—in Africa over the next four years and Taj International Hotels Limited will open six new hotels in sub-Saharan Africa over the next two years, the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group is prioritising South Africa and Nigeria as its key markets for expansion with more than 20 hotels development planned for each country.
Five of the 20 new 5-star properties of Starwood Hotels & Resorts will be in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country. Investors will also develop hotels in Congo-Kinshasa and Mozambique.
HICA participants also emphasised the need to focus on the new market entrants coming from the educational institutions and the ‘up-skilling’ of current talent within the hospitality workforce.
Industry workplace psychologist and Managing Director of US-based AETHOS Consulting Group, Dr. James Houran, said in order for the sector to capitalise on the growing domestic and regional tourism markets, the hotel industry needed to develop senior leaders who will effectively manage new businesses and develop multi-tier talent to execute strategies that will meet growing consumer service demands.
Details of the conference are available on the hica.co.za website.