rifai pix

taleb rifai, the secretary general of unwto

The 4th edition of the World Tourism Conference (WTC) jointly organized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture in Malaysia (MOTAC), has concluded the country, which is also the second most visited destination in South East Asia.

Under the theme ‘Tourism Delights: Delivering the Unexpected’, the conference focused on strategies to enhance the visitors experience under the principle of “tourists first”. The round tables on ‘Tourism a Sunrise Industry?’ and ‘Tourism Experiences: Breaking New Grounds’ debated tourism trends beyond 2030 as well as how to reinvent the sector with a customer-oriented focus.

“We have witnessed two revolutions: on technology and on travel. The confluence of these has resulted in a new traveler who is technology-savvy, connected and informed who increasingly desires authentic, unique and valuable travel experiences and who is also more responsible and conscientious. Our sector needs to harness the emerging desire for ‘positive-impact’ tourism to contribute to a better world,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai at the Opening of the Conference.

“A key element to advance tourism is creativity and innovation (…) in that regard, Malaysia has enhanced its tourism products by packaging “local community’s daily life” into a touristic offer – the “homestay experience” – providing travelers the opportunity to immerse in the traditional village lifestyle and to interact with local hosts, as well as other initiatives such as Villagestay, Visit MyFelda and Visit MyLonghouse,” explained the Minister of Tourism of Malaysia, YB Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri bin Abdul Aziz.

Additional sessions were dedicated to the endless opportunities that tourism brings to communities, where the relevance of sustainable practices, rural and youth tourism were underlined.

Malaysia has recently presented the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) which has prioritized tourism as a catalyst for economic prosperity. Ecotourism, family-friendly destination, business tourism, and events, entertainment and sports have been emphasized within this strategy. With this Program, Malaysia hopes to reach 36 million tourist arrivals by the year 2020. In 2015, Malaysia received 27.5 million international tourist arrivals.

SavedPicture-2016922161232.jpgTourism is one of the fastest growing and most resilient economic activities of today. Over the past decades, international tourist arrivals have more than doubled, from 528 million in 1995 to 1.184 million in 2015.

At a global level, tourism has proven to be quite resilient and constantly growing; the sector is however regularly challenged by natural and man-made risks and crises. These crises have a great impact at the destination level, threatening to destroy their economy and social structures. Considering that tourism is predominantly ‘immaterial’ and often depends on perceptions, the sector is, thus, highly sensitive to both objective and subjective risks.

In order to manage these challenges adequately, relevant structures and processes have to be designed in a robust and resilient, but also flexible manner, with clear understanding of the special needs and concerns of the tourism sector, whilst maintaining a balance between security and seamless travel.

Building resilience within the tourism sector requires a realignment and full integration of tourism within the national and local disaster risk and emergency management structures. It further requires this responsibility to be shared amongst all relevant stakeholders.

Furthermore, current security concerns threaten the recent advances registered in travel facilitation and seamless travel around the world. According to the UNWTO’s latest Visa Openness Report, the share of tourists requiring the obtainment of a traditional visa prior to travelling continues to decline and is currently at its lowest recorded level. In 2015, 39% of the world’s population could travel without having to obtain a traditional visa prior to departure, as compared to only 23% in 2008.

In 2009, the UNWTO General Assembly approved a Declaration on the Facilitation of Tourist Travel with a set of principles, including the use of modern information and communication technologies, in relation with travel advisories and visa facilitation. Developing more innovative technologies in facilitating seamless travel and in creating a more resilient tourism sector is a collaborative responsibility between the tourism sector and security structures.

Considering that:

1.The current safety and security situation is a global problem and, as such, requires a global response;

2.Countries affected need collective support to get through difficulties and to build the recovery;

3.Clear communication is critical, including adequate crisis communication preparedness and management;

4.Public and private sectors must plan, work, communicate, and respond together;

5.Accurate and constantly updated travel advisories are critical; and

6.Experiences and best practices must be shared, so that countries can learn from each other.

The 2016 edition of the UNWTO/WTM Ministers’ Summit will focus on the following issues:

  • What are the major safety and security challenges facing the tourism sector and how to address them?
  • How to foster the dialogue between the tourism and security to strengthen effective coordination, information sharing, and communication in crisis preparedness, management and recovery?
  • How to advance the integration of tourism and security and develop a resilient tourism sector through adequate mechanisms, resources and technical skills
  • How can destinations and source markets work closer together through their public and private sector to promote safe and seamless travel?
  • How to maximize the use of technology to enhance national and economic security.

Moderator: Becky Anderson, Managing Editor & Anchor, CNN International


H.E. Mr. Nabi Avci, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Turkey

Hon. Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Ministry of Tourism, Kenya

Ms. Nina Brooks, Head, Security, Airports Council International (ACI) World

H.E. Mrs. Selma Elloumi Rekik, Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts, Tunisia

Ms. Isabel Hill, Director National Travel and Tourism Office, Unted States Department of Commerce

Mr. Fritz Joussen, Chief Executive Officer, TUI

Mr. Aldo Lale-Demoz, Deputy Executive Director and Director of the Division for Operations, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

Mr. Ryoichi Matsuyama, President, Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive, ABTA

Mr. David Scowsill, President and CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)

H.E. Mr. Mohamed Yehia Rashed, Minister of Tourism, Egypt

Hon. Edward Zammit Lewis, Minister of Tourism, Malta.


Nanet Suites Abuja

The expansive Nanet Suites located in the Central Business District, Abuja will Saturday, October 29 host the Abuja Writers Forum (AWF)’s monthly Guest Writer Session. The edition is expected to feature writers like Aishida Dele, Doris Malgwi and Musa Idris Okpanachi .

At the event, Malgwi is expected to read from her debut novel, The Crippled Eagle.

Born to Aba and Deborah Nuwamyung in Kaduna State, her education began from the St. Barth’s Zaria to the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, where she took a degree in International Studies.

Writing has been a passion which she has followed from childhood. Inspired by a variety of writers including Chika Unigwe, Mary Higgins Clark, Tami Hoag, Iris Johansen and James Hadley Chase, she has been drawn to the thriller genre.

Malgwi is married with two sons. Currently resident in Abuja and writing for leisure, her present project is a sequel to The Crippled Eagle.

A multiple award-winning poet and scholar, Dr. Musa Idris Okpanachi, who hails from Kogi State, teaches at the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State.

Okpanachi’s new volume of poems, Music of the Dead can be regarded as continuation of the exploration of power and its abuses, which characterise his two previous collections, Eaters of the Living and From the Margins of Paradise.

Aishida Dele (aka Aishida) is a songwriter, composer and guitarist, as well as a professional baker. An indigene of Ondo State,he was born to Olabode and Victoria Aishida. He spent his formative years in Jos, Plateau State, and started learning the rudiments of music at an early age in the church choir, before moving to Abuja where he joined Open Mic Forum Nigeria.

In 2014, Aishida released his maiden album SHIELD, and in 2015/16 he released a single “Africans “ which had popular airplay on radio and TV stations. The video was directed and shot by Kasim Ibrahim.

He draws musical inspiration from the likes Lionel Richie, Don Moen, CeCe Winans, Age Beeka and Asa.

Aishida has done gigs with Six FootPlus, D’Banj, Age Beeka, M.I. Abaga and other international artists like Henhouse Prowlers, Bobby Ricketts and Chris Thomas King.

The Guest Writer Session, an initiative of the Abuja Writers Forum, started in June 2008 and is in its eighth year. It is a platform for promoting both upcoming and established writers, while enabling direct and immediate interaction with a live audience.

Each edition which runs from 4-7pm also features side attractions of poetry performance, and a raffle-draw for books as well as live music.

saaSouth African Airways (SAA), Tuesday, said it has taken a decision to prohibit the Samsung Galaxy Note 7.

The decision, according to the airline, was taken based on safety considerations in the interests of passengers, crew and property.

The decision, it added, will be effective on all SAA flights from all stations globally as from Wednesday, 19 October.

This means, the Galaxy Note 7 device is prohibited completely and may not be carried by travellers on their persons, in carry-on baggage, in checked in baggage or as cargo.

“We initially placed a restriction on the use of the device where we prohibited the charging of this specific model on board our aircraft. However, the recall of the device by the manufacturer based on safety considerations and the announcements made by regulatory authorities in some key markets we fly to, have left us with no option but to comply,” said SAA Spokesperson Tlali Tlali.

Subsequent to the announcement by the manufacture to recall the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 regulators in various jurisdiction and countries have announced a ban on the device in respect of air transportation. The announcement by the regulators obligates SAA as an airline to implement and comply with such a ban.

Further SAA is enjoined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) general provisions on safety to take steps to ensure safety of its operations as and when goods and/or products have not met safety requirements. IATA’s position is stated as follows: “Lithium batteries that have been recalled by the manufacturer for safety reasons must not be shipped by air”. The Galaxy Note 7 is powered by lithium batteries and has since been recalled by the manufacturer.

“In the interests of standardising and maintaining operational safety and compliance with regulatory requirements it has become necessary to prohibit this specific model on board our aircraft. We are aware that Samsung remains one of the most popular brands worldwide and the decision is not an outright ban of all Samsung mobile devices – it is limited to Galaxy Note 7 only,” added Tlali.

“SAA apologizes to all its customers for the inconvenience this decision may lead to. The airline had to align in order to maintain the safety of its operations and to mitigate risk associated with non-compliance.

“The successful implementation of this decision anchors on customer cooperation and support. Travellers are encouraged to leave the device at home if they have not returned them to Samsung in response to the call made by the manufacturer. Non-compliance with the prohibition may lead to confiscation of the devices and/or fines being imposed against the passengers concerned,” concluded Tlali.

The airline, however, stated that it will accept no liability for devices that may be confiscated in the process of ensuring compliance with the prohibition.

This is also as the airline said its general conditions of carriage still apply.


Team Topcomm (From Left): Temi-Tope Ogbeni-Awe, Founder and Chief Service Officer, Omoh Imanah, PR/Marketing Executive; Livinus Ogbeh, Account Executive; Mohammed Abdullahi, Principal PR/Media Consultant and Olanrewaju Samson, Events and Brand Activations Consultant.

Travel Lifestyle Network (TLN), has admitted Topcomm PR Concept & Events Ltd, as its first member agency in Nigeria.

TLN is the global network of independent communications agencies delivering comprehensive suite public relations and marketing communications to clients across the travel and lifestyle sectors.

With this development, Topcomm becomes the first agency to join the Travel Lifestyle Network in West Africa and the second in the entire African continent after another PR agency, Irvine Bartlett in South Africa.

In a signed letter announcing Topcomm’s membership of the Travel Lifestyle Network, Hanna Kleber, Chairwoman of Travel Lifestyle Network and Managing Director of KPRN Network in Germany, congratulated the agency for joining the network after a rigorous process of assessment and final voting by the existing members.

In her statement, Kleber said, “We are delighted to welcome Topcomm to the Travel Lifestyle Network where members benefit from each other’s expertise and continental-based knowledge for better service delivery either through a collective pitch or individual referrals.”

“From our assessment, Topcomm is an established name in the public relations sector in Nigeria particularly in the field of destination and lifestyle travels. The Travel Lifestyle Network is delighted to extend its network to Nigeria and collaborate with Topcomm,” Kleber explained.

According to Temi-Tope Ogbeni-Awe, Chief Service Officer of Topcomm, “Public Relations is constantly evolving with regards to the challenges of modern times. At Topcomm, we are moving with the tide, hence our joining a reputable global Travel Lifestyle Network to further deliver not only international standard practices but a bouquet of exceptional services.”

“The Travel Lifestyle Network will afford Topcomm the opportunity to brainstorm and share best practices ideas with other leading member agencies across the world in order to exhibit top professional proficiency in our service delivery to our esteemed clients”, Ogbeni-Awe stated.

Travel Lifestyle Network partner agencies are currently represented in 25 countries in Africa, Europe, Americas, Asia and the Middle-East.

Most importantly, members of TLN join a community of like -minded professionals, each of whom are able to deliver a unique perspective and implementing successful PR and Marketing campaigns in their respective markets.

Lagos-based Topcomm was established over a decade ago, providing niche public relations and events management services to local and international brands in destination, travel, tourism, hospitality and lifestyle.


Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International.

Marriott International, Tuesday, announced plans to debut Element Hotels, its stylish eco-incubator brand in Egypt in early 2019.

To be sited in Cairo’s upscale Heliopolis district and slated to be the largest Element Hotel in the Middle East and Africa, Element Cairo is being developed by Abraj Misr Urban Development and is owned by Middle East Real Estate for Development (MERED), an Egyptian limited liability company. Element Cairo will be part of The Gate Project, the new iconic ecofriendly development, featuring the largest housing, administrative, commercial facility in Egypt and the Middle East.

The hotel will feature 344 light-filled rooms and an atmosphere designed to fuel a life in balance and on the move.

“Egypt is one of our key markets and we are excited to introduce a new brand to the capital’s city center,” said Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “Element Cairo will be a highly-anticipated addition to our rapidly growing portfolio presenting travelers an appealing, new option for short and long stays in this market. We believe travelers deserve more than a place to stay so we don’t compromise on comfort or quality for guests.”

Engineer Ali Rabie, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Abraj Misr Company, the pioneering real estate developer in the field of building via green architectural technology said “It is with great pride that we announce the inking of an agreement to bring Element Hotels to Egypt as part of one of the foremost real estate projects by our company. Our collaboration is a continuation of the company’s strategy of working with reputed international brands to redefine the lifestyle landscape. We are confident that this project with its modern and outstanding architectural design will be the first choice for those seeking uniqueness of experience and tranquility.”

Located within easy access from the airport, downtown Cairo as well as New Cairo, Element Cairo will be part of a landmark mixed-use project with a high-end retail mall housing Egypt’s largest indoor theme park and unbranded residences.

Spacious studios and one, two and three-bedroom suites at Element Cairo will offer a fluid design of modular furniture, fully equipped kitchens, the signature Heavenly® Bed and spa-inspired bathrooms. Hotel amenities will include fast and free WiFi, complimentary bikes to borrow, a state-of-the-art 24-hour fitness center, 668 square meters of flexible meeting space and a fully equipped business center and an all-day dining cafe. Guests can fuel their day with the healthy Rise breakfast and wind down with the Relax evening wine reception – both complimentary.

A recognized industry leader in the eco-space, Element offers travelers a fresh interpretation of the traditional hotel experience with natural light, modern design, healthy options and eco-minded sensibilities. This re-imagined extended-stay experience is perfect for the traveler who is visiting for a few days or a few weeks.

Element continues to grow at a phenomenal pace with hotels slated to open in numerous markets by the end of 2017, including Austin, Dallas, and Katy, Texas (USA); Gainesville, Florida (USA); Moline, Illinois (USA); Des Moines, Iowa (USA); Chandlers, Arizona (USA), Redmond, Washington (USA); Huntsville, Alabama (USA); Palmdale, California (USA); Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta (Canada); Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Bali Ubud, Indonesia; Hebei and Foshan, China; and Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia.

SavedPicture-2016922161232.jpgThe United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Egypt have concluded plans to organize the 5th Global Summit on City Tourism under the theme of “Cities: Local Culture for Global Travellers” on 1-2 November 2016 in Luxor.

During the summit, UNWTO is also expected to launch the Mayors for Tourism Initiative.

According to the organizers, tourism has become a central component of the economy, social life and geography of many cities in the world and is ideally positioned to seize the opportunities provided by urbanization.

This is also as many challenges are emerging, including the need to effectively manage the growth of tourism in many cities around the globe.

The 5th Global Summit on City Tourism: “Cities: Local Culture for Global Travellers” is therefore, expected to discuss city tourism trends and debate themes such as sustainable development, spatial organization and rejuvenation, innovation in city tourism, cross-cultural behaviour, and new business models or the so‑called ‘sharing economy’.

The development of clusters that engage public and private players from all sectors is central to the new paradigm of city tourism development, in which tourism needs to be a tool for social cohesion and cultural preservation, beyond its fundamental contribution to economic activity.

As part of the action plan of the UNWTO City Tourism Network, the United Nations tourism monitoring body will launch a new initiative gauged to gather mayors and decision makers in cities around tourism issues.

The Mayors for Tourism Initiative aims to promote the important role of tourism as a driving force for socio‑economic development in cities, and place the sector as a priority in the urban agenda.

Mayors of world cities have been invited to share best practices in managing the challenges and opportunities that tourism presents to local administrations and to propose formulas to align their tourism‑related policies with those of national governments.

The Summit will be preceded by the 104th Session of the UNWTO Executive Council, taking place in Luxor, Egypt on 30 October-1 November 2016.


African Union

African Union (AU) has moved to dismiss reports making the rounds on social media over the contents of a satirical “travel advisory” that was quoted in Kenyans.co.ke on and other online publications this month, which was credited to it.

According to body, ‘there are individuals or groups that are misinforming the public.’

A statement issued, Thursday, by the AU, said: “In response to information circulating on social media and queries made to the African Union Commission to verify the contents of a satirical “travel advisory” that was quoted in Kenyans.co.ke on and other online publications this month, the African Union (AU) would like to inform all African and international media and audiences that there are individuals or groups that are misinforming the public by sending incorrect statements in the name of the AU and making use of the logo or other symbols of the African Union to give credibility to their statements.

“Specifically, the Union has not sent out any travel advisories to any country or territory in the world as purported in a statement that is circulating on social media, and which has been quoted by some online publications. Furthermore, the statement refers to the African Union as a state government while it is in fact an international organisation.

“With reference to information for publication by the media, the AU sends communication such as press releases, media advisories and communiqués to various media on its database. Journalists wishing to get accreditation to the AU as well as to have their contact details added to the AU database in order to receive communication should send email to DIC@africa-union.org.

“As the African Union continues to work with all its member states and African citizens to achieve the continental goal of unity, prosperity and peace, it appeals to all stakeholders, when referencing statements of the Union, to rely on information from these official channels. It also calls on those who are making wrongful use of the Union’s symbols to misinform the public, to respect the symbols that represent the collective aspirations of the African people to achieve a united, prosperous and peaceful Africa as enshrined in the Union’s constitutive act and the Agenda 2063 continental development framework,” the statement read.

accorhotels-2-jpgGlobal hotel chains, AccorHotels and Best Western Hotels, have now unveiled strategic plans to expand their brands in Africa with new openings expected to enter into operations across the continent from last quarter of this year.

While, AccorHotels plans to expand in the southern Africa country of Angola, from November, Best Western Hotels’growth is directed at East Africa with new openings in Kenya

Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Thursday, announced plans to add another hotel to its East African portfolio. The newest addition is BW Premier Collection The Alba, located in Nairobi, Kenya. Centrally located, with easy access to businesses, offices, banks, shopping and tourist attractions, it is the ideal place to stay in Nairobi for either business or pleasure.best-western

The new construction property, set to open in Q3 2017, features 83 carefully designed rooms all featuring a selection of modern amenities including flat-screen TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi. The hotel also offers secure underground parking.

The Urban Grillroom provides an iconic restaurant with a compelling East African twist, drawing on re-imagined Nyama Choma cooking in an urban, upscale setting. The Lobby Bar and Lounge is the perfect setting to enjoy a coffee while overlooking the hotels garden.

Sky Bar Latino, a vibrant roof top bar infused with Latin passion offers spectacular cocktails together with a signature sushi and ceviche counter.

The health club includes a fully equipped gym, treatment rooms and a roof-top spa. The landscaped garden, overlooking the terrace, contains a lap pool for hotel guests.

Managing Director of Alba Hotels, Juliet Njogu commented, “having met with the Best Western Hotels & Resorts representatives during the Africa Hotel Investment forum in 2014 and 2015, we felt that BW Premier Collection was the right opportunity for us and we are proud to be the first BW Premier Collection hotel in Africa”.

The hotel complex also includes state of the art conference facilities with capacity for up to 100 delegates and a pre-function space.

Best Western recently introduced, BW Premier Collection, a global collection of carefully selected upscale and luxury hotels that retain their individual identities. BW Premier Collection continues Best Western hotels and Resorts’ rich history of providing guests with unique and local hotel experiences around the world.

“BW Premier Collection is a new introduction to our brand, which offers an exceptional and unique travel experience to guests. With the addition of this property to our existing hotels, and additional property due to open this year, we are delighted with our portfolio of hotels in Kenya. I am thrilled that our hotels in East Africa continue to go from strength to strength” said Suzi Yoder, Senior Vice President of International Operations, Best Western Hotels & Resorts.

With its double expertise as investor and operator and through its subsidiaries HotelInvest, HotelServices, AccorHotels group operates in 19 countries, from the Maghreb region to Southern Africa, with 106 hotels (18,700 rooms), 11 brands from economic to luxury: Raffles, Fairmont, SO, Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery by Sofitel, Mercure, Novotel, ibis, ibis Styles, ibis Budget.

AccorHotels is a reference key player in Africa’s being part of the economy for 40 years and employing 10,000 collaborators.

The major events on the African continent for last months were the opening of Pullman Lubumbashi Grand Karavia (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Sofitel Tamuda Bay Beach & Spa (Morocco) but also ongoing high level projects like the unique contract of 50 hotels in Angola.

In Africa, AccorHotels – definitely leader in French-speaking countries – expands in English-speaking ones

“Above all, our ambition is to reach 200 hotels by 2020, then, 300 hotels by 2025. We want to reinforce our presence in French-speaking Africa and quickly gain market shares in English-speaking Africa,” said Antoine Guego, COO AccorHotels Africa & Indian Ocean, during the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), in Kigali.

From this perspective, beginning of this year, AccorHotels has opened a HUB, dedicated to the development, in Johannesburg. This HUB will help the Group expand in East Africa. « We target openings in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa. One Pullman, One Mercure and One Novotel is already under construction in Addis-Ababa. One Pullman will open in Nairobi end of 2017 (340 rooms) », added Philippe Baretaud, SVP Development Africa & Indian Ocean.

In Angola, the first ibis Styles will open its doors in Luanda, on November 9. Thus, AccorHotels will be the first operator to cover the whole country. This historical implantation of the hotel group was made possible through an exclusive partnership with the major Angolan company AAA ACTIVOS LDA.

The construction of a national network of 50 hotels spread across the capitals of the different provinces – Luanda, Huambo, Humbo and Namibe – is defining for the Angolan economy.

Four hotels will host their first clients in the region of Luanda, the Angolan capital. Among them, the Grand Mercure Talatona (150 rooms), ibis Styles Talatona (120 rooms), ibis Styles Viana (180 rooms) and ibis Styles Cacuaco (180 rooms).

Over time, 27 hotels will be operated under the banner of the economic ibis Styles brand, 22 under that of the upscale Grand Mercure brand, and 1 under the luxury Sofitel brand.

Angola has 25 million inhabitants, 40% of which are of working age. Therefore, 3,000 employees will be hired locally in a large selection of hospitality jobs, ranging from restaurant service to executive positions: The Group commits to train these employees, as well as to pass on its values to them.

An accelerated African growth strategy for Carlson Rezidor, one of the world’s largest hotel groups, is on track to achieve its target of more than 23,000 rooms open or under development in Africa by the end of 2020.

Rezidor’s President and CEO, Wolfgang M. Neumann, who is a speaker at the Africa Hotel Investment Conference, in Kigali, Rwanda, disclosed that the hotel group launched its accelerated African growth strategy in 2014 with ambitions to double its portfolio in Africa by the end of 2020.
“Africa has always been close to our hearts. We were the early movers on the continent in 2000 when we established our dedicated business development base in Cape Town.

“Today, Africa is our biggest growth market with a fully functional Area Support Office in Cape Town since 2016. We also converted our joint venture company with the four Nordic Government Development agencies, AfriNord, from a mezzanine debt funding facility to a minority equity investment vehicle to support our strategy and owners.”

Rezidor first entered Africa in 2000 when it opened its first Radisson Blu in Cape Town. Today Carlson Rezidor’s footprint in Africa has grown to include 69 hotels open and under development in 28 countries, incorporating more than 15,000 rooms.

“We have opened a new hotel in Africa every 60 days over the past two years,” he said.

Neumann also added that in the past 24 months Carlson Rezidor has signed a new hotel deal in Africa every 37 days.
“Of course, we are aware that it is not just about signing. It’s really about delivering the pipeline. We have opened a new hotel in Africa every 60 days over the past two years. This year, we have already opened six Radisson Blu hotels and expect to open a Park Inn by Radisson in South Africa in the next six months. We intend to keep up this momentum of signings followed by successful openings.”

The six hotels opened in 2016 include Radisson Blu hotels in Nairobi, Kenya; Marrakech, Morocco; Maputo, Mozambique (first residence in Africa); Abidjan, Ivory Coast (first airport hotel), Lomé, Togo; and the Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre in Kigali, Rwanda, East Africa’s largest convention centre and host to the 2016 Africa Hotel Investment Forum.

Carlson Rezidor Senior Vice President Business Development Africa & Indian Ocean Andrew McLachlan, says Radisson Blu leads the way with more hotel rooms under development than any of the other 85-plus hotel brands active in Africa today, according to the W-Hospitality Report. “Our ambition is to be the leading player in the travel and tourism sector across the continent.”

Exciting new developments on the cards for Carlson Rezidor in Africa include the signing of the first Radisson RED, which is expected to open in Cape Town in the course of 2017, as well as the signing of the first Quorvus Collection to be built in Lagos, Nigeria, expected to open in 2019.

Carlson Rezidor aims to open 15 or more hotels in South Africa and Nigeria alone by the end of 2020, incorporating its full brand portfolio, ranging from the Quorvus Collection, Radisson Blu, Radisson RED, and Park Inn by Radisson.

McLachlan says Africa presents an opportunity for Carlson Rezidor to grow its resort portfolio under Radisson Blu and Quorvus Collection in locations such as Mauritius, Seychelles, Zanzibar, East Coast of Kenya and Tanzania and the Cape Verde Islands.

He adds that the challenges experienced in Africa are no different to those experienced in other emerging markets. “Generally-speaking, the owner class in Africa today is typically a local, first-time owner and local professional team with limited or no hotel development experience. This means the learning curve is high and expensive. In addition, there is a high demand for imported products and equipment in many of the markets. To mitigate these risks, we offer hotel turnkey design and build contractors to ensure the owners and their teams have significant support when it comes to delivering each hotel.”

“Water and electricity are the two most expensive running costs in African hotels today and we are constantly looking at ways to design and operate our hotels with a view to saving costs and improving results, as part of our responsible business strategy,” says McLachlan.

Notably, 77% of Carlson Rezidor’s hotels worldwide have been eco-labelled and the hotel group has recorded a 22% energy saving since 2011 and a 29% water saving since 2007 across Europe, the Middle East & Africa. The hotel group is particularly focused on conserving the planet’s scarce water resources and its Blu Planet initiative is aimed at providing safe drinking water for children in disadvantaged areas in partnership with international water aid charity, Just a Drop.

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group also partners with IFC, a member of the World Bank Group that focuses on private sector development, to promote the design and construction of green buildings in emerging markets. Through the partnership, Carlson Rezidor will use the EDGE eco-analysis software for all of its future hotel projects in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. As 40% of the world’s carbon emissions are generated through the construction and operation of buildings, designing green hotels supports the industry’s responsibility to meet COP21 targets.

Expanding its footprint into Africa also means creating employment for the local population in each country, with an emphasis on developing women to leadership positions. “Many hotel jobs do not require tertiary education and present opportunities for locals to be trained and upskilled to fulfil particular roles,” says McLachlan.