Nairobi – Kempinski Hotels, Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group has, announced it will set up a hotel chain in Rwanda as part of its Africa expansion plans.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, on Thursday, Retto Wittwer, the Kempinski Hotel Group president and chief executive officer, told reporters that the group would set up a high end hotel in Rwanda by the end of next year.
“We are one month old in Nairobi, but have established presence in Chad, Djibouti, Ghana and Seychelles. We plan to venture into Rwanda and the DR Congo soon,” Wittwer said. Since its founding in 1897, Kempinski Hotel Group has dominated the luxury segment.
Wittwer stressed that Africa was ripe for investments in luxury hotels as resource boom and demographic dividend accelerate economic prosperity in the continent.
“The hospitality industry in Africa has maintained a growth trajectory and this is good news for different players who have tailor made products on offer. We believe innovations and better understanding of this market will enable us to remain afloat,” Wittwer remarked.
He allayed fears that acts of terrorism and sporadic civil strife will dissuade global hotel brands from investing in Africa. “Some of our hotels are 100 years old and in this period, there have been wars, revolutions and phenomenal disasters across the globe, yet this has not stopped our operations. There is always a silver lining in every dark cloud.”
The group is set to commission new hotels next year in Africa, including the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City in Accra, Ghana and the Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski in Cairo, Egypt.
“African hospitality traditions lay a great foundation for our global expansion here in Africa and around the globe,” said Wittwer.
“Kempinski places a great emphasis on recruiting and retaining the best talent in the industry and the quality of candidates we are encountering in places like Kenya and Ghana, gives us great confidence that we will be able to deliver the service that we have built our reputation on over the past 116 years that Kempinski has been in operation.”
Other global brands that have set eyes on Rwanda’s hospitality industry include Marriott, which is in the final stages of establishing a top end 250-bedroom hotel in Kigali.
Alex Kyriakidis, the Marriott president and managing director for the Middle East and Africa region, said global hotels chains were bullish on the African market.
“Resurgent African economies have not escaped attention of investors in hospitality industry. Our presence in sub-Saharan Africa is a testimony to our faith in this new market,” said Kyriakidis.
The Park Inn by Radisson has also entered the Rwandan market, as global brands rush to take advantage of the booming local tourism industry.
Rwanda earned $142.5m in tourism revenues in the first semester of this year compared to $128.4m in the same period last year. The country received 664,729 visitors, up from 583,096 during the same period last year.
According to the managing director of W Hospitality Group, Trevor Ward, leading hotel brands and fund managers have intensified their investments in Africa because the continent presents the largest and most promising frontier market that has attracted foreign direct investments in all sectors, especially travel and tourism.