AHIF’18 Will Highlight Kenya’s Pitch for Inward Investment
Published 19 January 2018
The Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), which is the premier hotel investment conference in Africa, attracting many prominent international hotel owners, investors, financiers, management companies and their advisers, will return to Nairobi on 2-4 October 2018.
However, the day prior will feature investment inspection visits to several development projects around Kenya. Kenya has varied and wide-ranging tourism potential and the opportunity to explore some of these investment opportunities before congregating in Nairobi will be one of the highlights of the event programme. The visits will include various projects accessible via the Madaraka Express Train Service - Kenya’s new express railway, which opened in May, 18 months ahead of schedule.
Speaking at Investour, part of the FITUR programme, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Hon. Najib Balala, said: “I am delighted that we have brought Africa’s highest profile hotel investment forum back to Kenya. It will attract the kind of people who have the influence and resources to make a destination successful. At AHIF, we will be making a compelling case for investment in the hospitality sector across Kenya. Nairobi is already the established business hub of East Africa but there is so much more opportunity in our country. For example, Kisumu is offers huge potential for new hotel accommodation and the leisure possibilities on our sea coast is self-evident. We also have another vital asset: a population which is innately friendly, hospitable and keen to serve.”
At the AHIF launch, the Kenyan government announced plans to introduce a package of measures to incentivise international investment. They will include aggressive incentives to entice land ownership and encourage the development of hotel infrastructure and associated ‘entertainment’ such as restaurants, theme parks and even cruises.
Jonah T. Orumoi, Managing Director of Tourism Finance Corporation (TFC), a Development Financial Institution in the tourism sector in Kenya, added: “After agriculture, Tourism is Kenya’s most important industry. We are blessed with fantastic natural tourism resources: spectacular scenery, beautiful beaches and wonderful wildlife, including the opportunity to see ‘the big five’, Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Buffalo and Leopard in their natural habitat. But that’s not all; thanks to our air links, Kenya is attracting an increasing number of business events and several major infrastructure projects are driving the whole economy with a consequent demand for new accommodation.”
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Kenya’s travel & tourism industry is responsible for 15.3% of total exports and 8.9% of total employment. It is also a sector that WTTC predicts will continue to grow at 6% per annum over the coming decade.
Hoteliers are eager to capitalise on Kenya’s favourable tourism outlook. The latest research by W Hospitality reveals that the country’s branded hotel chain pipeline is in Africa’s top ten with 3,453 rooms under development spread over 19 hotels.
By moving location every couple of years, AHIF has provided direct economic benefits to various African cities. A recent economic study by Grant Thornton revealed that hosting AHIF brings, on average, a million dollars in direct benefit to the local economy, an additional 1.4 million dollars in indirect benefit and a substantial six-figure sum in tax to the government. AHIF has also helped showcase high-growth destinations to the hotel investment community. In 2017 and 2016, the conference was held in Kigali, where it was attended by around 500 delegates from 41 countries (of which 22 were African), including scores of top executives from the major hospitality companies. Previously, it was held in Addis Ababa and before that Nairobi and Casablanca.
AHIF is organised by the global event organiser Bench Events, which has a long track record of delivering multiple premium hotel investment conferences and forums across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Market leading annual conferences include the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Dubai, now in its 13th year, the new Asia Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (AHTIC), The Russia Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference (RHTIC) and the Latin American Hotel & Tourism Investment Conferences (SAHIC).
Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench Events concluded: “Kenya has moved forward tremendously since AHIF was last here in 2013. Major investments in infrastructure are transforming communications and access. That has to be of interest to our delegates and we are very much looking forward to seeing it first-hand.”