6 October 2017

Rwanda: Hilton Hotel Franchise Enters Rwanda Market

Photo: New Times
Ubumwe Grande Hotel in Kigali.

Global hotel franchise, Hilton Hotel, is entering the Rwandan market by taking over Ubumwe Grande Hotel in downtown Kigali.

Hilton Group will operate the facility under DoubleTree by Hilton brand, joining other global brands in the market, including Radisson Blu, Park Inn, The Marriott, Serena Hotel and Golden Tulip.

Ubumwe Grande Hotel, which was opened in September last year, has 153 rooms, including 134 guest rooms and 19 apartments.

The takeover is expected to take effect beginning next year.

According to a statement by Hilton Group, the hotel will undergo some changes in order to rebrand.

"The hotel will undergo some changes in order to rebrand and will be Hilton's first property in Rwanda. Once rebranded, the hotel will trade as the DoubleTree by Hilton Kigali City Centre," the statement reads in part.

The property is owned by a consortium of investors, including Nepalese businessman Binod Chaudhary, Uganda's Mukwano Group, and Robert Bapfakurera, a local businessman.

Hilton Group currently operates 19 hotel chains in the Sub-Saharan Africa with a further 29 in the pipeline. It has held a presence on the African continent for over 50 years.

Patrick Fitzgibbon, the Hilton Group senior vice-president for development, in Europe, Middle East and Africa, said they are keen on expanding their footprint in the region.

He said they will use a model of converting existing hotel facilities under the brand.

"The model of converting existing hotels into Hilton branded properties has proved highly successful in a variety of markets and we expect to see great opportunities to convert more hotels to Hilton brands," he said.

Fitzgibbon said the model will enable them grow their portfolio and deliver returns for owners.

"It enables us to rapidly grow our portfolio and delivers returns for owners by increasing exposure of their business to more international, inter-regional and domestic travellers," Fitzgibbon said.

Rwanda's hospitality sector has been on a growth curve in recent years, attracting investors in medium and high class facilities consequently creating a diversity of attractions.

The tourism sector is projected to fetch about $444 million (about Rwf370 billion) in 2017, up from $404 million last year.

The increase in revenue is due to continued tourism promotion efforts as well as the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Events and Exhibitions (MICE) strategy.

Local tourism stakeholders say the targets by RDB are feasible and could easily be surpassed largely due to the new gorilla trekking fees, RwandAir expansion and the MICE initiative.

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