Cape Town - Wolfgang M. Neumann, president and CEO of The Rezidor Hotel Group, will be participating at the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), taking place on October 4 to 6 at the Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre in Kigali, Rwanda.
It will run parallel with the inaugural AviaDev Africa, a conference to determine future air connectivity on the continent.
Ahif is expected to bring together top-level international investors, business leaders, industry experts, government ministers and officials, from around the globe, according to the organisers.
Neumann called for even closer cooperation between the hotel and airline industries.
AviaDev visitors will be able to meet and network with 30 airlines, 40 airports and 500-plus delegates in 1 000 meetings.
The organisers said the two conferences will provide a platform for airports, airlines, governments and tourism authorities to plan future air connectivity in Africa and to discuss those plans with the hospitality industry. They will also be able to discuss the main issues confronting economic growth in the region, including the threat of terrorism and the outbreak of Ebola.
“Hosting these two co-ordinated events provides a unique opportunity for everyone involved in the aviation and hotel industries," said Matthew Weihs, Bench Events managing director, organiser of both events.
He pointed out that the International Air Transport Association (Iata) has predicted strong growth for Africa, which will include seven of the top ten fastest growing aviation markets.
“The success of airlines and hotels are inextricably linked. The two industries have worked closely together for decades and it’s important that this dialogue is maintained. We keep a close eye on what’s happening with new routes and flights as these are ultimately a reflection of consumer demand,” said Neumann.
He added that Rezidor has seen a surge in growth in Africa “more than anywhere else in the world,”
Bench Events has outlined three key areas that could help the continent’s aviation and tourism industries achieve their full potential in the face of Africa’s broad economic challenges, which include falling commodity prices, slowing consumer consumption and lower growth.
Reducing aviation fuel taxes
Industry insiders say the fuel tax, set by governments in Africa, is too high and is stifling economic growth. Costs are being passed on to passengers, keeping travel numbers low.
“Air fuel in Africa can cost up to 2.5 times the world average. The low oil price has undoubtedly assisted the growth of air transport worldwide and many airlines have enjoyed a good 2015 and 2016 but aviation is not a money-spinner," said Weihs.
"So surely now is the time for more enlightened taxation policies including a reduction in taxes on fuel to help aviation, and hence commerce, flourish in Africa.”
Resolving airline revenue repatriation
In June, Iata called on four African governments – Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt and Angola – to ensure airlines are able to repatriate revenues owed to them. The concern is that a shortage of dollars, because of a fall-off in oil revenues, will make airlines increasingly nervous about retrieving funds owed to them, resulting in route closures.
“There’s no easy solution to this issue, but it could have catastrophic consequences for aviation markets and set them back many years," said Weihs.
Developing a single African passport
This would offer visa-free access to passport holders from the 54 member states in the African Union. The aim is to have the passport fully implemented by 2020. The first recipients would be heads of state, government ministers and permanent representatives.
Behramjee Ghadially, senior manager route network planning at Arik Air, who will be at AviaDev, emphasised that without investment in infrastructure and hotel beds, there is no need for air services.
"AviaDev will bring together these two communities for the benefit of Africa,” he said.