The Africa Hospitality Investment Forum (AHIF) will return as an in-person event in 2022, taking place on 2 – 4 November, at the luxurious Fairmont Taghazout Bay, a five-star resort with leisure and business facilities, next to Agadir.
AHIF is Africa’s premier meeting place of leaders in the hospitality sector, attracting hotel and real estate investors, owners and developers, global hotel operator CEOs and prominent advisory services from across the African continent and beyond. The event creates a dialogue and drives deals between international investors and hospitality owners on the whole African continent. To date, this year’s top line sponsors include Host Partner, SMIT, and Platinum Sponsors, Radisson and IHG.
Imad Barrakad, Chairman & CEO, SMIT, said: “We are delighted to be hosting AHIF once again and showcasing the opportunities that are available for investors outside of the established cities of Casablanca and Marrakech. As a country, we are investing billions along the southern coast of Morocco and we look forward to welcoming the luminaries of the African hospitality industry to showcase the opportunities, build relationships with them and assure them that Morocco is a place they should prioritize for new initiatives.”
Morocco is an outstanding example of the benefits tourism can bring to a country’s economy and its investment attractiveness. Prior to the pandemic, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) reported that the Travel & Tourism sector was responsible for 21.2% of the country’s export revenue, $10.0 billion. In 2019, the industry was worth $14.6 billion, 12.1% of Morocco’s GDP, and was sustaining 1.3 million jobs, 12.3% of total employment.
According to the World Bank, tourism is expected to be a major driver of the country’s economy this year. In 2021, Morocco’s GDP growth rebounded to 7.4%, which helped the country regain most of the output and job losses caused by the COVID-19 crisis. However, as real GDP is still 6.4% below the pre-pandemic trend it is encouraging for those looking to invest.
Matthew Weihs, Managing Director, The Bench, which organizes AHIF, said: “Hosting AHIF in Taghazout will allow us to increase the networking opportunities within the event. We want to fully utilize the resort and incorporate into our program lawn or poolside talks and activities such as golf, tennis, or yoga. In addition to the keynote presentations, panel discussions and exhibition showcase, we will provide our attendees with a truly immersive AHIF experience. As we have realized, nothing quite matches an in-person event, when it comes to understanding the issues of the moment, assessing the mood of the market, sharing ideas and meeting potential new business partners.”
A recent meeting of AHIF’s Advisory Board, comprising a select group of senior industry leaders, including: Mossadeck Bally, Founder and CEO, Azalai Hotels Group; Rahul Chaudhary, CEO and MD, CG Corp Global & CG Hospitality Holdings; Olivier Granet, Managing Partner and CEO, Kasada Capital Management; Leila Farah Mokaddem, Director General Southern Africa, African Development Bank; and Graham Wood, COO, Sun International; agreed the main topics of discussion at this November’s conference should include:
Public-sector tourism investment incentives
Global economic overview on Africa
Investors’ view on opportunities
Contingency planning and crisis management
Alternative business models – franchise vs management
Localizing a brand
Growth of alternative lodging
Sustainability in hospitality
Besides hotel and destination investment, the AHIF 2022 program will feature a broad overview of hospitality from aviation to culinary experiences, and from contingency planning to foreign investment into Morocco. In addition to the in-person event, two virtual AHIF Marketspace events will take a deep dive into specific regions in Morocco and showcase the projects that are ripe for immediate investment. The first AHIF Marketspace will take place on 15 June (09:45 – 12:30 GMT + 1) with a focus on Guelmim Oued Noun, a city in southern Morocco, often known as the Gateway to the Desert. Boasting a new airport, Guelmim is one of the most promising beach destinations in Morocco and, with an investment plan of $1.2bn by the government, it is aiming to be one of the top destinations in the Kingdom.
These short 2-hour virtual events ahead of AHIF will be free to attend and provide additional touch points for the AHIF community. The projects presented will be loaded onto a secure platform with further financial and project information for investors to review. There, they can also request private meetings with the project owners at their convenience. Further Marketspace webinars on specific regions around Africa and the Middle East will follow, giving investors, owners, developers an online catalog of verified, investable projects.
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