Arabian Hospitality
Investment Conference

Part of FHS

25-27 September | Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island

Press release

Africa continues to grow despite COVID-19 pandemic

Dubai, UAE 19 May 2021: African hotel development continued its growth trend in 2020, with 82,000 rooms in 447 hotels in the pipeline at the beginning of 2021. This is according to the 13th annual survey by W Hospitality Group, acknowledged as the industry’s most authoritative source on growth and development. Whilst the Covid-19 outbreak had a profoundly negative impact on Africa’s hotel operations, the impact on deal signing was, surprisingly, much less – there were 71 deals with 10,000 rooms signed since the last study, down “only” 30 per cent on the previous year.

Whilst the continued activity by the chains in expanding their footprint contributed to the increase in the pipeline, another factor was the reduction in the number of hotels opening. It was anticipated at the beginning of 2020 that 90 hotels with 17,000 rooms would open across Africa during the year, but in the event only about 25% of those opened their doors. The reasons for that are well known.

W Hospitality Group’s Managing Director, Trevor Ward, said: “The growth of the chains’ presence in Africa has been a very positive story since we started this analysis in 2009. It is quite clear from the numbers that the chains, the developers, the investors – and all of us at W Hospitality Group! – continue to believe in the opportunities that Africa presents in the hotel and tourism industry, even in the face of the serious impact of COVID-19 on demand.

“We knew that 2020 would see a slowdown in signings, it was just inevitable because so many of the players were locked down, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as we feared. And although hotel openings in Africa were far fewer than expected – again, pretty inevitable – most of the pipeline is delayed, not cancelled, and we are looking at a record 217 hotels with 32,000 rooms scheduled to open between now and the end of 2022.

This year’s African Hotel Chain Development Pipeline survey has 40 international and regional hotel contributors across the 54 countries in north and sub-Saharan Africa, and in the Indian Ocean islands. It reveals a 5.3% increase on the 2020 pipeline.

The findings of the 2021 Pipeline report, together with a mid-year podcast update, will be discussed in depth at the Arabian and African Hospitality Investment Conference (AHIC), organised by bench, to be held in person on 20-22 September in Dubai. This event will bring together the Africa Hotel Investment Forum, the leading hospitality investment conference in Africa, with the Arabian Hospitality Investment Conference, the Saudi Arabia Hospitality Investment Conference and the Global Restaurant Investment Forum. The event will connect business leaders to serious investors, driving funds into tourism projects, infrastructure and hotel development across the MEA region.

This year’s report reveals that, whilst France-based Accor and the USA’s Marriott annually compete for the number 1 slot in the Pipeline, this year it’s the Europeans that win, with Marriott a close second, a reverse of last year’s result. Whilst Accor has slightly fewer hotels than Marriott, it records 3 per cent more rooms in its development pipeline, because of a larger average number of keys per hotel.

Both Accor, with its 43 brands (globally, not all in Africa) and Marriott, with a total of 31 brands and collections, have clearly positioned themselves as the dominant players on the continent, both with their existing hotels and also the additions from their pipeline signings:

These top 5 chains account for two thirds of the total hotels in the Pipeline, and over 70 per cent of total rooms.

Egypt has by far the largest pipeline, more than double second placed Nigeria, and with almost a quarter of the total pipeline rooms on the continent:

Trevor Ward said: “Hospitality is an enormously important industry in Africa, not just in the Top 5 but in several other countries as well, because of the direct and indirect jobs that it creates and sustains, as well as its strong foreign currency earnings. We are anxious to see a return to growth, particularly in existing hotels reopening and new ones entering the market, and getting back to contributing to the African growth story.”

Matthew Weihs, Managing Director of bench, which is staging the Arabian and African Hospitality Investment Conference, said: “After a difficult year, I am truly excited to be looking forward to an in-person event that brings all our audiences together in one, safe and secure, environment. For the savvy investor this is actually a real moment of opportunity as hotels are a long-term investment. As we near the bottom of the economic cycle this is such an opportune moment to come together and lay the foundations for deals across the Middle East and Africa. See you there!”


About W Hospitality Group

The Lagos-based W Hospitality Group, a member of Hotel Partners Africa, specialises in the provision of advisory services to the hotel, tourism and leisure industries, providing a full range of services to clients who have investments in the sector, or who are looking to enter them through development, acquisition or other means. In sub-Saharan Africa W Hospitality Group is regarded as the market leader due to the market and financial expertise of its staff, its worldwide knowledge and its commitment to its clients. In Africa, W Hospitality Group has to date worked in 40 countries on the continent, from its Lagos and Addis Ababa offices.

About AHIC 2021

AHIC, now in its 17th year, is the annual gathering for the Middle East’s hospitality investment community organised by global hotel investment event organiser Bench in partnership with Middle East business intelligence brand, MEED. AHIC creates a knowledge and networking platform for global and regional investors of all backgrounds, offering essential insights to investing in hotels, showcasing regional and international hospitality investment opportunities and facilitating direct connections with hospitality industry stakeholders. AHIC 2021 will be held at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai from 20 to 22 September and hosted by its founding patron, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group, whose continued support of the industry and AHIC has been critical to the region’s tourism growth.

AHIC 2021 Sponsors

Sponsors include: Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts as Host Sponsor; Accor, Dur Hospitality and Hilton as Platinum Sponsors; Emaar Hospitality Group, Marriott International, Millennium Hotels and Resorts, Neom, Radisson Hotel Group and Taiba Investments as Emerald Sponsors; Compass Project Consulting, The Indian Hotels Company, IHG Hotels and Resorts, Insignia, IT Hospitality Group, Katch, Louvre Hotels Group, OBMI Architecture, SSH, STR, Toggle Hospitality and The London Project as Gold Sponsors; Al Tamimi and Company, Hotstats, HVS, JLL, Opeco, PWC, Shangri-La Group, TIME Hotels and Voltere by Egis as Silver sponsors; The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, Hospitality Asset Managers Association and Sustainability Hospitality Alliance as Supporters; and JA Resorts and Hotels as Golf Supporter.

For more information about AHIC 2021, please visit:

Press Contact: Anne Bleeker, Managing Partner, In2 Consulting; Office: +971 4 455 8499; Mobile: +971 566030886

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