DUBAI, (Reuters) – Marriott International will open its first hotels in Algeria, Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa by 2012 and sees further opportunities to grow in Asia as the global economic downturn recedes.
“Asia is in the lead and the Middle East and Africa is right up there with it,” Ed Fuller, president and managing director of Marriott Lodging International, one of the hotel operator’s five business segments, said at a news conference in Dubai on Wednesday.
The U.S-based company, which aims to have more than 70 hotels in the Middle East and Africa by the end of 2015, will open a hotel in Algeria, Morocco and Ghana, and two more in Egypt.
“We’ve made several forays but have been unable to break into Africa until this point,” Fuller said.
“Africa has great potential.”
The company, which operates the Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance Hotels, will focus its African expansion on Algeria, Angola, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa, its chief development officer for the Middle East and North Africa, Jean-Marc Grosfort, told the conference.
Fuller told Reuters that while he believed the worst of the financial crisis was over, it was “premature” to say that hotel bookings in the Middle East were picking up.
In October, Marriott said its worldwide revenue per available room (revPAR) for the third quarter fell 23.5 percent, and it could be flat to down 5 percent for hotels worldwide in 2010.
RevPAR is a benchmark measure for the hotel industry.
Many hotels have struggled during the global downturn as recession-hit customers reduce spending on travel while businesses also look to cut costs.