Supported by strong economic growth and the government’s ambition to make Côte d’Ivoire a regional centre for business and conference tourism, the hotel industry has expanded rapidly in the West African nation over the past few years. While this expansion bodes well for the industry in the long term, the first half of 2020 saw fewer visitor arrivals – and therefore lower numbers of occupied rooms – due to the spread of Covid-19 and the resulting worldwide travel restrictions.
According to the “Hospitality Report Côte d’Ivoire 2018” by Jumia Travel, the number of hotels across the country increased from 2041 in 2016 to 2531 in 2017. With 1220 hotels, the greater Abidjan area hosts almost half of the country’s total. The capital is followed by San Pedro, with 367 hotels, Yamoussoukro (181) and Man (145).
In 2019 Abidjan was included in the top-10 cities in Africa in terms of number of hotel developments, according to W Hospitality Group. The city ranked 8th out of 40, with some 2102 rooms in the pipeline, up one spot from 9th in 2018, with 1830 rooms in the pipeline.
Abidjan’s hotel industry has been supported by business tourism since the end of the decade-long political conflict in 2011. “The industry is booming, and many hotels are either being constructed or are in the pipeline, especially in Abidjan. There are at least three high-end projects for Abidjan’s business district of Plateau alone,” Hermann Olivier Ollo, CEO of Ivorian investment firm Fedel Invest, told OBG.
International hospitality players have taken notice and invested in the business and luxury segments. In addition to a hotel near the airport, Sweden’s Radisson Hotel Group has two more hotel projects in Abidjan, both scheduled to open in 2021: the 152-room Radisson Hotel and Apartments Abidjan Plateau, and a 165-room Radisson Red hotel. Accor, which has five hotels in Abidjan, announced plans in December 2017 to build a Novotel-branded hotel with 200 rooms and an Adagio apart-hotel with 110 apartments, which was under construction as of mid-April 2020. The company also has plans for a 160-room Mövenpick hotel in the capital.
Regional players have followed suit. Mali-based Azalaï Hotels opened a four-star establishment in the city in February 2017, while Spain’s Mangalis Hotel Group is set to open a 257-room hotel – also currently in the construction phase – under its upscale Noom brand.
Additional capacity will be needed to sustain Abidjan’s position as a regional hospitality centre. As more international events are planned to be hosted in the capital in the future and international travel gradually returns following Covid-19, room demand in the city is likely to continue to grow.
None of these international and regional hotel chains currently operate in second-tier cities such as the capital Yamoussoukro, San Pedro or Bouake, and the hotel industry in the interior of the country remains largely underdeveloped. “There is a lack of hotel offerings in the interior and many existing hotels are in poor condition. In many cases, there are not enough clients,” Mamadou Bamba, managing director of Evasion en Côte d’Ivoire, a local tour operator, told OBG. While the occupancy rate of hotel rooms is around 70% in Abidjan, it is 60% in San Pedro and Yamoussoukro, and around 50% in most other cities.
However, investors are increasingly looking to expand beyond Abidjan. Mangalis, for example, has projects in the southern city of Soubre and the northern town of Korhogo. In March 2019 Olivier Jacquin, CEO of Mangalis, told international media that the group’s strategy is now to target secondary cities and tertiary towns. China’s Yunnan Construction and Investment Holding Group is also set to build in Bouake and Korohgo (see overview). Players are eyeing seaside locations as well. As of 2019 Radisson was considering investing in San Pedro, Assinie and Grand Bassam, while Mangalis will open its first high-end hotel complex in Assinie in 2021. The 8-ha Noom Palms Resort Assinie will offer sport and leisure activities, targeting regional and European clientele.
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