A welcome development that Gaborone Bonnington South MP, Ndaba Gaolathe, said would benefit Botswana’s travel and tourism hugely is finally coming about.
In the latest edition of Africa Tourism Monitor, an African Development Bank publication, an executive of the largest hotel chain in the world reveals that Botswana features in their expansion plans. Writing in the publication, Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director for Middle East and Africa of Marriott International says that the demand for travel and high-quality lodging is growing, providing his company with a significant opportunity to enhance its footprint in emerging markets across the continent.
“While strengthening our footprint in existing countries, we are gearing up to foray into new countries like Benin, Botswana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal,” Kyriakidis says.
An American multinational diversified hospitality company, Marriott International has more than 6500 properties in 127 countries and territories around the world, over 1.2 million rooms, and an additional 195 000 rooms in the development pipeline. Marriott International bought Protea Hotels, which is Africa’s leading hotel brand, in April 2014. Protea Hotel Gaborone, which will be located in the new Gaborone CBD, is scheduled to welcome its first guests in 2022.
“The hotel market in Africa is still under-represented with under-capacity in most cities. As an international hotel operator, Marriott International has brought quality lodging into the continent. Our compelling lifestyle brands resonate with the aspirational and fast growing middle class. African economies have sustained unprecedented rates of growth, driven mainly by strong domestic demand, improved macroeconomic management, and increased political stability,” Kyriakidis says.
While Botswana has good quality hospitality establishments, in the past Gaolathe has pointed out that Botswana should increase its three-to-five-star hoteling capacity with globally-recognised hoteling brands. Gaolathe, who stands out for bringing scholarly rigour and precision to his public intellectualism and parliamentary debates, said that having a globally-recognized hotel brand is important because guests tends to gravitate towards brands that they can trust.
“This is particularly important when visitors are going to unfamiliar countries. International guests will prefer hotels with loyalty programmes,” said the MP citing the United States hotel industry which has over 290 million loyalty members as an example.
These members earn either points by staying at hotels within their loyalty programme or free hotel nights at the same hotels. According to Colloquy (stylized as COLLOQUY), if a city does not have hotels in the top loyalty programmes (like Marriott/Starwood, Hilton and Hyatt), then it reduces opportunities for international guests.
Brand Finance, a global valuation and strategy consultancy values the 50 most valuable hotel brands in the world and according to its 2018 rankings, Hilton is the world’s most valuable hotel brand. The latter has a brand value of US$6.3 billion. Brand Finance says that while Hilton remains the world’s most valuable hotel brand, its lead over Marriott shrunk by 74 percent this year. The two main hotels in Botswana, both of which are located in Gaborone, are Avani Gaborone Hotel & Casino (formerly Gaborone Sun) and Grand Palm Hotel Casino and Convention Resort. The former is part of the 18-property Avani Hotels & Resorts while the latter is part of the Peermont Group which operates 13 properties located across South Africa, Botswana and Malawi. Both Avani and Peermont have never featured in Brand Finance which Gaolathe contends is not a good thing. According to the MP, the attraction of having globally-recognised hotel brands in Botswana “could also be a catalyst for the long-term development of indigenous hotel brands which can evolve into international brands over the long term.”
History is about to be made as Hilton Garden Inn, which recently advertised positions in the media, opens at the Gaborone CBD. According to its website, “This new hotel will soon be joining the Hilton Portfolio of Brands and is presently accepting reservation for arrival January 15, 2019 and beyond.”