Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia and Eswatini are four African travel destinations with incredible potential for tourism growth. This is according to Guy Stehlik, CEO BON Hotels.
Stehlik explains BON Hotels recognised the potential of Nigeria as the African powerhouse of tourism and hospitality in 2015 already.
“We started in Nigeria with a very small operation. Beginning in Abuja, we first signed a management agreement to manage, market and administrate a quaint 28-roomed boutique hotel and refurbished the hotel into a flourishing business-focused space. Now, a few years later, we are by far the biggest hotel group in the country. We currently have 20 operational hotels in Nigeria, with another 20 hotels expected to open under BON management before 01 February 2023,” he says.
Nigeria isn’t the only African country that holds potential. Ghana is another promising market for the hotel industry. “We haven’t seen the same expansion yet in Ghana as in Nigeria, but we’re in the process of growing our portfolio in the region,” said Stehlik.
And finally, North East Africa and Eswatini hold incredible potential, according to Stehlik. “Countries such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, South Sudan might not seem ‘sexy’ right now, but there will be many opportunities in the years to come from a tourism perspective. Especially Ethiopia deserves our attention. With a growing tourism industry in the north of the country, the opportunities to build resorts and hotels will increase exponentially.”
Also, Eswatini has great potential and BON Hotels is exploring opportunities in the region. Said Stehlik: “BON Hotels has been looking to expand into Eswatini for a while as we believe this destination may not necessary be now but will soon be one of the up-and-coming African destinations with a growing economy and an increasing amount of corporate activity, domestic travel and international leisure appeal.”
To identify the right opportunities in Africa, Stehlik explains you need to have a good understanding of the markets, what infrastructure is available and how the country is developing.
“If we look at Central Africa 40 years ago, we see that the bigger hotel groups entered places where they saw small green shoots of tourism, like Brazzaville, Luanda, and Kinshasa. These multinational groups generally launched one large corporate hotel in the capital cities and attracted corporate business to the area. From there, local and international tourism to the area grew.”
For Stehlik, the opportunity in the identified African markets lies in the mid-market hotels in up-and-coming business destinations that will attract the local market as well as the more cost-conscious regional and international market. “The key in these markets is to design hotels that offer four-star service and a reputable brand, but that also have the affordability factor to cater for the local and regional business traveller,” Stehlik said.
The future of the African hotel sector, in general, is definitely looking promising with reports from PWC indicating an increase in both foreign and domestic traveller numbers along with an expansion in several hotel chains on the continent reinforcing the hotel sector’s potential for growth.
As experts in hotel management, ownership and marketing in Africa, BON Hotels identifies opportunities for growth and success for hotels within Africa. “The past few years have been incredibly challenging for the hospitality industry. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t opportunities to recover and even prosper post COVID,” concluded Stehlik.