A hospitality expert in Africa has called on Africans to develop, explore and promote African destinations as the continent’s domestic market will be the last hope to rapidly recover from the trauma of the lockdown and also to help players face the challenges of the COVID-19 new normal.
According to Mark Havercroft of Minor Hotels, “Africa’s own domestic travel market will be at the forefront driving recovery of the sector post-COVID-19, and it’s up to the leisure and business accommodation industry to get behind what these markets will demand as doors open once again.
“It was two years ago that a PwC report identified the importance of local markets for the African travel sector, and the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic make these more relevant than ever.
“In its PwC Hotels outlook: 2018-2022 Positioning for future growth, the company predicted the steady growth of the domestic tourism market across the continent, noting the principal role this market plays in a number of African countries where strong economies support and drive domestic tourism.
“Interestingly, for us, it was primarily the appeal of this local market, and what we could offer African travellers, that attracted Minor Hotels to the continent in the first place. Today, we have operations in Zambia, Mozambique, Mauritius, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Seychelles, Tanzania and Kenya.”
Havercroft explained that Africa had also been identified by McKinsey & Company as the world’s youngest and fastest-urbanising continent, with predictions that it would have a larger working population than either China or India by 2034.
He added that there is already evidence of a significant rise of a strong middle class, and it stands to reason, therefore, that this will be followed by increased demand in terms of both the business travel and tourism leisure markets.
However, while recovery post-COVID-19 will indeed mean that local travellers will first look to what is available within their own borders as countries begin to reopen, Havercroft said it will be critical to find ways to retain these markets into the future.
“At each step of the way, it will be critical that the offerings reflect the fact that very close attention has been paid to what African travellers both need and desire and, in both instances, what they can afford to spend.
“In certain respects, there will need to be tailoring away from the price tags that international markets have been prepared to pay, while still offering domestic travellers the same opportunities within their own countries.
“It goes without saying that personal safety from a COVID-19 perspective and quality must be the top priority across all aspects, from the location of hotels, the servicing of rooms and the technology available on-site, to the package deals hotels offer in partnership with other service providers in the vicinity.
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