Kenya, Uganda top in hospitality industry targets

Kenya and Uganda are among the top 10 preferred African countries for hotel developments, with hotels planning to add new rooms this year.

The two countries have been ranked seventh and 10th respectively in a recent survey by W Hospitality, a global company providing advisory services for the hotel, tourism and leisure industries.

Eight global hotel chains, among them Radisson, Hilton, Sheraton, Marriott and Kempinski, plan to add 1,510 rooms in Kenya while in Uganda nine international hotels, among them Hilton and Sheraton, plan to build 1,397 rooms.

In Nigeria, which is ranked at the top, 51 hotels target 8,563 rooms. Egypt and Morocco are ranked second and third with plans for 6,440 and 5,474 rooms respectively.

Agatha Juma the chief executive of the Kenya Tourism Federation, said the ranking shows that despite the challenges facing Kenya, the country and the region remain on the radar of investors and tourists. Such investments imply there is a foreseen growth in tourist numbers to occupy these rooms.

Experts in the travel industry said that East African countries should step up their marketing strategies to compete favourably with North and West Africa for investments and tourists.

Slow infrastructural development such as airports, visa restrictions and insecurity remain major challenges for visitors in East Africa, hindering investments.

North Africa is coming up strongly and South Africa remains attractive to tourists because of its ability to promote specific segments on modern platforms, experts said, despite insecurity challenges in the past.

The EAC countries should utilise social media to showcase their beaches and wildlife. Tunisia and Morocco have done this, while Egypt is rebounding because tourists choose what is easily available to them, said Darren Huston, chief executive officer of the Priceline Group, a global provider of online travel and related services.