During the next two years, the European hotel operator will open more than half of them in Egypt, which Willis said is rebounding after “external factors” hurt the industry. In 2015, an Islamic State affiliate blew up a Russian aircraft as it left the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in an attack that killed 224 people.
“Egypt is resurrecting after 10 years of a tough situation,” Willis said in an interview in Nairobi, Kenya. Egypt has overtaken Kenya’s coastal region as the preferred destination for European tourists and investors, he said, and revenue per available Accor room there has risen 20% year on year.
Key markets in Accor’s growth plan include Nigeria, Ethiopia and SA, where it will open 10, seven and three hotels respectively by 2020. Accor has 143 hotels in Africa, 63 of them south of the Sahara, and will promote its Movenpick luxury brand, Willis said.
The hotel group will finance the growth with more than $1bn from the Kasada Fund set up by Katara Hospitality and Accor in 2018 for sub-Saharan Africa. Accor invested $150m, while the Qatar Investment Authority unit put in $350m. The remaining $500m will be raised through bank loans, according to Willis.
“We have a soft footprint in SA, which historically was not a focus for Accor, but it very much is today,” he said.
“It will continue to develop, and where there’s an opportunity for Onefinestay, for sure we will put it on the table,” he said.