The past couple of years have been some of the most challenging for Africa’s tourism industry, in part due to insecurity, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the decline in global oil prices. However, sub-Saharan Africa fared relatively better than many other regions in 2015. According to data from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), total travel and tourism GDP grew by 3.3% in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015, faster than Europe (2.5%) and North Africa (1.4%). Sub-Saharan Africa is also leading the way in terms of planned hotel rooms, according to W Hospitality Group’s “Hotel Chain Development Pipelines in Africa 2015” report. Out of the 50,000 rooms planned across the continent in 2015, the majority were driven by projects in sub-Saharan Africa, spearheaded by West Africa (53%) and followed by East Africa (24%), Central Africa (12%) and Southern Africa (11%). Ghana ranked in the top-10 African countries in terms of planned hotel rooms, with 1399 rooms being developed across eight hotels.
Hotel construction in Ghana received a boost following the discovery of the Jubilee oil field in 2007, resulting in a rush of investment and business travellers in the years that followed. This, combined with the country’s relative political and economic stability, saw a number of international hotel chains gradually establish themselves over the years. These include the 260-room Mövenpick, the 168-room Holiday Inn Accra, the 238-room Golden Tulip and the 190-room Best Western Premier. Among the most recent additions is the Kempinski-branded, five-star Gold Coast City hotel. Located in the capital, the hotel opened its doors in 2015 with 269 rooms, a spa, a 1750-sq-metre conference centre and a high-end retail area. French hotel group Accor also inaugurated a hotel under its Ibis Styles brand in December 2015. Comprising 192 rooms, Ibis Styles Accra Airport is located 1.5 km from Kotoka International Airport and includes a restaurant, two bars, a pool and a business centre. According to Patrick Fares, CEO of Royal Airport Hotels, the bed capacity of internationally branded hotels in Ghana is estimated at between 1800 and 2000, up from around 1200 in 2012. “The economy is expected to steadily improve over the next two to five years,” he told OBG. “This should stimulate additional investment in sectors such as oil, mining and agri-business, which will in turn drive growth in the hotel industry.” A number of other major hotels outside of Accra include the Best Western Plus Atlantic Hotel in Takoradi, Zaina Lodge in northern Ghana and Royal Senchi in the Eastern Region.
Even though business has been slower since 2014, a number of global hotel chains are maintaining their plans to open. Next in line is the Marriott hotel in Accra, scheduled for completion by mid-2017. Another project is the four-star Radisson Blu Accra Airport hotel. Though still in the planning stages, it is expected to integrate a 98,000-sq-metre, mixed-use real estate development. In addition to the 206-room hotel, the project will include residential, commercial and office space. A mixed-use development led by Singapore-based Perennial Real Estate and hotel group Shangri-La is also in progress. Estimated to cost $250m, it will include residential areas, serviced apartments, office space and a Shangri-La hotel. The project is due for completion in 2019.
In the short to medium term hotels are likely to remain contingent on the recovery of the oil sector. In the meantime, Ghana should capitalise on its natural assets and devote more attention to the development of infrastructure and products in its leisure segment.
According to Fares, coastal areas in particular remain underdeveloped since accessing some of the nicest beaches areas remains difficult. “There is potential to develop some of the country’s coastal areas into high-quality resorts,” he told OBG.