Month: February 2015

HILTON Hotels is planning to pour more money into South Africa as competition hots up for the continent’s tourism riches.

For a start, the US group plans to convert the independent hotels it controls in South Africa into Garden Inn hotels, according to Patrick Fitzgibbon, vice-president of development for Europe and Africa.

The plan follows signs that a tourism boom is taking shape in South Africa, helped by the rand’s fall against the dollar.

Grant Thornton’s latest Tourism Business Index showed an increase in tourist spending in the fourth quarter of last year – despite the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which prompted some tourists to cancel their trips to the continent.

Fitzgibbon was in South Africa to meet a team developing a new Garden Inn in the Namibian capital Windhoek.

Hilton’s announcement comes three months after Hard Rock International, which owns the Hard Rock Cafe, said it planned to build a hotel in South Africa. Group president and CEO Hamish Dodds said South Africa was a “really logical” place to launch its hotel.

Fitzgibbon said he was not surprised by his rival’s plans, given that Africa had “massive opportunities” in tourism.

The landmark Westcliff Hotel in Johannesburg, which has hosted celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, Richard Branson and the Dalai Lama, was bought by the Four Seasons group and its 117 rooms overhauled.

The new-look Westcliff opened for business late last year, but reviews after the R200-million makeover have been mixed, specifically of the one restaurant currently open. A further four restaurants will be opened this quarter.

Perhaps scarred by this poor reception, hotel management did not respond to interview requests this week.

Other hotel groups that want to increase their foothold on the continent include Marriott International, which bought the Protea Hospitality Group for R2-billion last year.

But South African hotel groups are not taking the challenge lying down.

Tsogo Sun, which is controlled by HCI, spent R220-million renovating two key Durban beachfront hotels and has invested R100-million in refurbishing its Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel and building a new hotel, 177 Empire Place, in Sandton.

Other developments announced include the Radisson Blu Le Vendome Hotel Cape Town, the Thaba Moshate Hotel in Burgersfort and upgrades to Emperors Palace in Kempton Park and the Mmabatho Palms Hotel in Mahikeng.

Hilton has 37 hotels in Africa and plans to build 29 in the next few years.

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Article Source: BD Live

Almost $2.9bn (£1.92bn) was pledged by the end of 2014 in donations to fight west Africa’s Ebola epidemic, yet only about 40% had actually reached affected countries, researchers have said.

A study by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that tracked international donations showed barely $1.09bn had reached the worst affected countries by the end of last year, they said.

“These delays … may have contributed to the spread of the virus and could have increased the financial needs,” said Karen Grepin, a global health policy expert at New York University who led the study and published it in the BMJ British medical journal.
Research published in the BMJ medical journal found global agencies had failed to reliably estimate the amount of money needed

The west Africa Ebola epidemic, the worst in history, has killed more than 8,800 people since it began more than a year ago, decimating already weak health systems in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Its spread now appears to be slowing, especially in Liberia which now has just five cases.

Grepin analysed the level and speed of pledges made to fight Ebola and how they aligned with estimates of funds required to control the epidemic.

She found not only that more than half of funds pledged by international donors had not reached the target countries, but also that global agencies had failed to reliably estimate the amount of money needed.

While Guinea first informed the World Health Organisation of a “rapidly evolving outbreak” of Ebola on 23 March 2014, the first major international appeal was not until August, when some $71m was asked for.

By mid-September 2014, around six months after the epidemic started, the United Nations estimated $1bn would be needed, only to raise that in November to an estimate of $1.5bn.

“Clearly, international leaders have found it challenging to estimate the financial requirements to tackle this rapidly spreading outbreak,” Grepin said in a commentary about her findings. “The problem has not been the generosity of donors but that the resources have not been deployed rapidly enough.“

UN Ebola chief, David Nabarro, said last month a further $4bn – equivalent to all aid committed so far – was needed by relief agencies and authorities in the worst affected countries to end the epidemic, with UN agencies alone needing $1bn of that to fund their part in the fight.

Article Source: The Guardian

The accommodation sector recorded its highest score since inception of the Tourism Business Index (TBI) in the last quarter of 2014, consolidating a year of largely positive performance for the local travel and tourism industry. The sector recorded 113,3 index points, exceeding the expected performance for the quarter of 110,4.

Other Tourism businesses (excluding Accommodation) achieved a score of 104,4, five points lower than forecasted but still indicating a positive sentiment in the industry. Overall, the industry performed almost in line with expectations recording a score of 108,3 compared to the forecast score of 109,8. A score of 100 represents normal trading performance.

Looking ahead, business performance for the first quarter of 2015 is confidently buoyant, with most respondents expecting normal trading conditions.

In this quarter respondents were also asked to rate various markets` potential for growth in 2015. Markets surveyed included Foreign and Domestic meetings, incentives, conferences and events markets; Foreign and Domestic business travel; as well as Foreign and Domestic leisure markets. Download the full report for more details:

Download the full 2014 Q4 TBI Report here

Last quarter accommodation sector`s improved performance is also reflected in StatsSA`s Tourist Accommodation statistics for November 2014 which recorded a year on year increase of 8,1% for November 2014 compared to November 2013.

Download the StatsSA Tourist Accommodation figures for November 2014 here

– Tweet us @tbcza if your business`s performance is reflected in the TBI 2014 Q4 results.

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