Attracting African domestic travellers post COVID-19: Give them options


For the past two decades, the economy of a number of countries on the African continent has been growing significantly faster than the global average, with sub-Saharan countries particularly leading the way, according to a recent report published by the African Development Bank. The continent’s middle class has also shown the largest growth, to some 350 million strong, driving a rise in the private consumption of goods by an average 3.7% year-on-year since 2010, with consumer spending accounting for between 50% and 60% of the growth of Africa’s economy. Targeting and servicing this significant middle-class market will be key to the revival of the hospitality industry in Africa post COVID-19, believes Mark Havercroft, Regional Director for Minor Hotels in Africa. However hoteliers will need to be astute in their offerings in order to attract, retain and expand that market.

Prior to COVID-19, numerous large hotel chains had already begun to make substantial inroads into the African accommodation sector. Along with the Minor Hotels brands such as Anantara, Elewana and Avani, other big names including the likes of Radisson, Marriott and Accor have placed a focus on this home-grown sector.

As travel and tourism destinations begin to open up again on the continent, it will be those hotels that are best able to service the economy, mid-scale and extended-stay markets that currently exist in Africa that will be the most attractive – to both business and leisure travellers. The range of options that hotels place on the table for these markets will be critical to the overall recovery of the sector.

Success will, however, require far more than simply offering a bed and breakfast. It will also be about extending each and every accommodation option to incorporate carefully curated travel experiences and services, with appropriate partners who operate beyond the lobby of each hotel. These partnerships include local tour guides, operators of local shops and marketplaces, restaurateurs or any other attraction that may appeal to travellers.

Prior to COVID-19, international brands generally tended to be focused only on bringing international travellers into their establishments. For now, we need to firmly focus on curating experiences for our African travellers that will resonate with them and deliver beyond their expectations.

This has been the group’s own vision from the start – to have a network of hotels offering different accommodation options in strategic destinations throughout the continent.

Once a traveller has confidence in one of your brands, and has had a good experience, they will be more inclined to sample other offerings among your other brands.