By Anthony Aisi
Kenya steps up investment attraction bid ahead of forthcoming AHIF Conference
Tourism sector leaders have stepped up a strategic effort to showcase Kenya’s tourism and hospitality investment opportunities ahead of the forthcoming Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) to be held in Nairobi, later this month.
The sector leaders, led by Tourism Minister, Dan Mwazo, who is also AHIF patron, have singled out the international conference and exhibition for exceptional support because it attracts the most influential business people and goes to a different destination in Africa each year.
Speaking in Nairobi, Minister Mwazo disclosed that many leading tourism investment companies and practically all the global brands in the hotel industry have confirmed their participation in the forthcoming Forum to be held at the Nairobi Intercontinental Hotel from September 25-26.
More than one dozen hotel chains and hospitality management companies, Mwazo explained, will be hosted by the Kenya Tourist Development Corporation (KTDC), which is the 2012 host partner of AHIF, to explore continental investment options.
“During the two day conference, local and international tourism sector investors will deliberate on a wide range of topics ranging from: the political climate, local infrastructure, access to natural resources, government initiatives, overall market potential, specific hospitality opportunities in Africa and the status of existing tourism policies,” Mwazo said.
On her part, KTDC CEO, Marianne Ndegwa, disclosed that leading hotel brands such as Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, IHG, ACCOR, Lonhro, Kempinski Hotels, Hyatt International, Wyndham Hotel Group, Hilton Worldwide and many more are sending high level representatives to attend the conference. Leading industry advisors who have committed to attend include: Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, Hotel Spec, Horwath HTL, W Hospitality Group and Aecom. There is also significant representation from the banking community including: Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), International Finance Corporation (IFC), African Export-Import Bank “Afreximbank”, which underlies the financial sector’s interest in hotels
Local hospitality industry players, led by Sankara Hotel Group, Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers; Kenya Commercial Bank Limited; Kenya Utalii College and Intex Construction Limited are also confirmed.
According to Lonrho Hotels Director & Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey White, Africa is the ‘last frontier’ sitting where Asia was 30 years ago. “It has a young population of nearly 1billion people with the consumer market forecast to reach $1.6trn by 2020 and average demand is suffering much less than in the West from the effects of global bank deleveraging, as there is practically no credit.”
Speaking during a recent tour of Japan to attend the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC’s) Global Summit, Tourism Minister Dan Mwazo and Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench Events, who is responsible for organising AHIF, both pledged to ensure a successful conference in the interest of regional tourism investment.
Hon Dan Mwazo said: “Tourism is extremely important to the Kenyan economy and our government is committed to doing all we can to encourage its growth. I see AHIF as a great opportunity to encourage the international hotel investment community to take a very serious look at Kenya. Hotels are critical to economic growth because business people and tourists, who are effectively the creators of new jobs, need somewhere to stay, to meet others and as a base to explore our wonderful country. Hotels are also great providers of employment locally, as they create work at all levels of society from cleaners and waiters to senior managers.
According to the WTTC, the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP in Kenya was KES403.7bn (13.7% of GDP) in 2011 and is forecast to rise by 4.3% in 2012, and to rise by 3.7% pa to KES603.1bn over the coming decade. The total contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment, including jobs indirectly supported by the industry, was 11.9% of total employment (778,500 jobs) in 2011. This is expected to rise by 1.2% in 2012 to 788,000 jobs and rise by 1.4% pa to nearly a million jobs in 2022.
Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench Events, which organises several premium international hotel investment conferences, including AHIF, said: “I am delighted Minister Mwazo has given the event his personal endorsement. The support of the government sends the right kind of signals to the investment community and the enthusiastic statements I have heard from several places in the Kenyan administration will encourage investors to come.”
AHIF is the premier hotel investment conference in Africa, attracting many prominent international hotel owners, investors, financiers, management companies and their advisers. AHIF moves to a different African city every year showcasing high-growth destinations across the continent. Last year the conference was held in Morocco, attracting more than 350 delegates from 34 countries.