African hospitality sector needs stronger branding: tourism experts

(EBC; October 12, 2017) - African economies have been urged to intensify efforts towards branding the image of the hotel and tourism sector as the continent continues to gain traction as a major global force in the hospitality industry, experts said Thursday in Kigali, capital city of Rwanda.

Speaking at a panel session dubbed "Brands Innovation Update" during the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) that kicked off there on Tuesday, hospitality players called African countries to focus more on selling a positive image of the continent's tourism and hotel sector.

Rwanda hosts the meeting from Oct. 10 to 12 that has attracted leading international hotel investors in Africa with local operators, ministers, government officials and industry experts, to discuss all aspects of hotel investment and operation in Africa.

"For long, African image has been perceived globally as of a broken continent, devastated by war, violence, robbery, disease and corruption which impede the growth of hospitality industry," said Karl de Lacy, International Development Director of Best Western Hotels and Resorts, Ireland.

"The continent should focus more on broadening the narrative and tell a more balanced, honest story about Africa," he said.

The director said the image of Africa does not reflect its economic transformation, diversity, entrepreneurial aspirations, investment growth, infrastructural development and stability.

The interactive session highlighted partnerships between the government and the private sector as key to creating stronger brand message about Africa hospitality industry.

Travel and tourism is seen as a highly attractive growth industry in Africa, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

The sector is responsible for 8.1 percent of Africa's GDP and it is forecast to rise at 4.9 percent per annum until 2025.

Source: Xinhua