Several international hotel chains are planning and setting up new units in the region, as EAC countries plan to raise annual tourism earnings to $16 billion from $7 billion by 2020.
In the 2014 Hotel Chain Development Pipelines in Africa report by W Hospitality Group, five hotels opened shop in Kenya increasing the countries’ room capacity by 743.
In Tanzania, 10 hotels were opened increasing the room capacity by 945, and in Uganda, three hotels set up shop, increasing the room capacity by 736. In Rwanda, four hotels opened, increasing room capacity by 819.
In Uganda, Carlson Rezidor will open its first property in Kampala’s central business in the last quarter of 2016; it will have 195 rooms. Uganda currently has close to 6,400 rooms, up from 1,700 seven years ago.
Speaking during the Africa Hotel Investment Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in October, Wolfgang Neumann, the chief executive officer of Rezidor, said they were happy to invest in Uganda.
“Tourism is one of the country’s fastest growing sectors and Uganda is an important market for foreign investment due to its rich oil reserves,” Mr Neumann said.
Elaine Reed, the Hilton Hotels senior corporate communications manager for Middle East and Africa, said the hotel chain will open its $200-million Hilton Kampala next year.
In Tanzania, Hyatt Hotels announced that it will open two new hotels — the Park Hyatt Zanzibar, to open this month, with 72 rooms, and Hyatt Regency Arusha, which will have 144 rooms, set to open in 2016.
This year, two new hotels opened in Tanzania under the US-based hotel chain Best Western — a 90-room four-star hotel in Dar es Salaam, and another in Zanzibar with 62 rooms. Hotel chain Rotana has started construction of a 249-room hotel in Dar es Salaam, to be complete by 2018.
Kempinski and Raddison hotels have ventured into Kigali. In July, Kempinski Hotels officially took over the management of Hôtel Des Milles Collines.
“Kigali is a remarkable city. The people are warm and generous and we have a great team already in place ready to showcase the unique personality of Hôtel des Milles Collines by Kempinski. We are excited to bring our signature Kempinski service to this city,” General manager Christoph Strahm said.
The Rezidor Hotel Group set up the 292-room Radisson Blu Hotel, and will also run the Kigali Convention Centre.
“The region has a lot of potential, especially in its hospitality sector,” said Andrew McLachlan, Rezidor’s vice-president, business development for Africa and Indian Ocean Islands.
In Kigali, Marriott announced plans to open a five-star 251-room hotel by mid-2105; Vision Hotel plans to open a four-star hotel with 157 rooms by 2017.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, a US hotel chain, plans to open six hotels in Nairobi, Zanzibar, Serengeti and Dar es Salaam in the next three years under the Sheraton franchise. One of the hotels will be based in Nairobi’s central business district, and another near the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
By the end of 2015, Nairobi will have the 220-room Golf View Hotel, the 256-room Radisson Blu, and the 196-room Grand Sapphire.
Since 2011, Nairobi has added more than 2,000 beds. In Nairobi, Belgium-based Rezidor Hotel Group has announced plans for a 276-room Radisson Blu Hotel, which is scheduled to open in early 2015 and a 126-room Park Inn by Radisson Nairobi in Westlands, which is expected to open mid-2015.
This year, Dusit International opened the DusitD2 luxury hotel, with a 100 bed capacity. The upscale 200-room Kempinski Nairobi opened in the March 2013, and the $17.5 million 45-room Hemingway’s opened in mid-2013. The 128-room Leisure Park Hotel is set to open in 2015.
In May this year, Kenya Tourism Board admitted that the country’s tourism was affected by terror attacks.
“In light of recent insecurity incidents, Kenya’s reputation as a safe destination has been compromised with Mombasa and other coastal destinations taking a hit,” said Muriithi Ndegwa, managing director of the Kenya Tourism Board.
Official figures from government showed that the number of foreign visitors to Kenya dropped by 11 per cent in 2013, due to fears of election-related political violence, the aftermath of the Westgate attacks and the attacks by Al Shabaab on various places in Nairobi, Mombasa and North Eastern.
KTB’s 2014 half year results in October showed a drop of 12.3 per cent in tourist arrivals in Nairobi for the first six months of 2014, with the consolidated arrivals falling from 495,978 in June 2013 to 428,585 by June 2014.
The Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers CEO Mike Macharia said despite the slowdown in the tourism industry, the investment environment is still conducive.
“We are seeing the confidence of international investors who are setting up hotels in the country. This means more job creation,” Mr Macharia said.