NAIROBI, August 29 – The Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced plans to expand its interests in the Kenya and the region within the next five years, in a bid to double its market share within the African market.
IHG Chief Operating Officer for the Middle East and Africa, John Bamsey told Capital Business that the group had already initiated plans to establish franchise hotels in Mombasa and Nairobi as part of its expansion plan in Kenya.
Bamsey revealed that the hotel group was already in discussions with other hotel groups in the coastal town, with which it intends to partner so as to provide hotel quality service to Kenya’s visitors.
“We’ve some of our franchises interested in Mombasa at the moment, which we are in discussions with, we would also like to look at other hotel opportunities in Nairobi because this is the key to our operation,” said Bamsey.
He however declined to disclose the estimated cost for the expansion program, but assured that the group was carefully considering the available opportunities in the target markets.
“We don’t invest money in new hotels directly, we have development partners and we look at their interests and plans and match them with ours,” he stated.
Bamsey noted the group was also targeting other parts of Africa, where it intends to build hotels in Luanda Angola, Lagos Nigeria, Mauritius and South Africa over the same period.
This expansion plan, according to the businessman, was also targeted at creating job opportunities for hundreds of young people in Africa.
He said the group had begun building Holiday Inns and Holiday Express in partnership with South African franchises.
He added that the hotel would be celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2009, with increased establishments currently standing at 17 hotels across Africa, and doubled room capacity from 3,000 to 6,000.
Meanwhile, Bamsey opined that tourism in Africa is largely untapped, compared to the European countries.
He advised that there was need to attract the over two billion European residents to Africa through ensuring reliable airline infrastructure and a competitive hospitality industry.
“Africa is still untapped. If you take Europe, there are two billion people there, the question is, how do you make them come here?” posed Bamsey.
He also said there was need for competitive pricing for tourism products in this side of the world, to guarantee optimal benefits from the lucrative industry.
The operating officer lauded the government efforts to strengthen conference tourism in the country, terming it a robust one in the region.
“Conference tourism here is robust, but there always more you can do,” he said.
He called for concerted efforts towards revitalising the tourism industry and advised against political instabilities, saying they are detrimental to development.