Marriott International is looking to expand its establishments in Africa, according to an article recently completed by USA Today. This decision was announced at the recently held US—Africa Business Forum. In detail, Marriott disclosed at the event that they would invest two hundred million dollars in Africa between now and 2020. This money would work towards building and opening thirty-six new hotels and hiring ten thousand new employees.
This announcement is somewhat unsurprising, as Marriott is already the largest hotel operator in Africa, a title it earned after it acquired one hundred and sixteen properties from Protea Hotel Group last April. With already such a large presence in Africa, many at the Forum wondered what led to the decision to continue to expand.
Arne Sorenson, Marriott International’s Chief Executive Officer, commented on the decision and what the corporation’s next steps were to be. Africa has become a priority for Marriott, due largely to the exciting growth the company has shown. The gross domestic product has grown quickly. In addition, the middle class in Africa is developing, now encompassing one billion people. This increase in the financially stable indicates to Marriot that there will be an increase in travel in the continent, both domestically and internationally.
Armed with this information, Sorenson says their priority at the moment will be to focus on local travel—domestic adventurers. Regardless of short or long distance travel, Marriott believes the general increase in stability in the country will lead to a need for more established hotels. Sorenson believes there is a misconception in the United States about Africa—that it is ungoverned and ungovernable, that the economy is failing and unstable. This is no longer true, from what Marriott’s executives have seen. The economy is growing and will continue to do so in the coming years. Sorenson does not believe Africa is likely to be in one of the top five economies of the world in the immediate future, but he thinks it has that ability to come in time. Therefore, it only makes sense to him and the rest of the executives at Marriott to invest now.