August 8, 2014

Marriott International commits to Africa

Dami Adepoju

Marriott International completed its acquisition of Protea Hospitality Group, a South African based hotel company, in April this year. The acquisition cost Marriott approximately US$200 million, for a portfolio of 116 hotels (10,148 hotel rooms) and about 15,000 employees, across seven African countries.

Before the acquisition, Marriott had been operating 14 hotels employing 10,000 people in Africa.  Its pipeline for the continent consisted of 26 hotels in 11 countries, including four planned hotels in Nigeria (one of which is the Lagos Marriott on the Ozumba Mbadiwe waterfront, Victoria Island).

At the just-concluded U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Marriott committed to 150 hotels, across 16 African countries by 2020.  As Arne Sorenson, the company’s President and CEO, pointed out, the most important benefit of development and investment in African economies will be the jobs created and Marriott hopes to generate approximately 25,000 jobs for the continent, by 2020.  Marriott also reiterated its commitment to the continent and its support of its budding travel industry.  Sorenson remarked of the summit, “It’s a great time to do business in Africa and Marriott is at the table helping to lead the discussion on trade and investment across the continent.  African leaders are looking at ways to spur economic growth by lowering barriers, such as onerous visa regimes. Travel is trade and the more Africa embraces Smart Travel policies that encourage the free flow of people, the quicker growth will come”.

Sorenson also added that the company will endeavor to keep jobs local and will utilize existing training institutions to provide staffing for hotels as they open.  For instance, in Rwanda, Marriott has taken 41 women from a local vocational program, to train at Marriott hotels in Dubai.  There they will learn necessary skills and leadership training, in order to return as part of the management team for the Kigali Marriott Hotel, scheduled to open in 2016.

Marriott International, Inc. is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and operates and manages more than 4,000 hotel properties in 79 countries. The company currently employs about 330,000 employees at its headquarters, and at managed and franchised properties globally.

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