The Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), will this September return to Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, since 2015.
The event, which is marked as premier tourism and hotel investment conference in Africa, attracting many prominent international hotel owners, investors, financiers, management companies and their advisers, was previously held in Ethiopia's capital city in 2014 and 2015.
The following two years, the conference moved to Kigali and last year to Nairobi.
According to the Managing DIrector of Bench Events which organises AHIF, Mr Matthew Weihs, said that the events expected include, sponsors and investors who will all be pleased to return to Addis. "Because it is an extremely well-connected, dynamic, developing destination," he added.
For the past 15 years, Ethiopia has been blazing an impressive trail when it comes to economic performance, with GDP growth being in the high single digits.
According to the IMF, Ethiopia's current GDP growth rate is 8.5%, surpassing every other country in Africa, except Libya. Its tourism sector has been growing strongly too, aided by enlightened immigration policies. Last November, Ethiopia relaxed its visa regulations to enable all Africans to gain a visa on arrival and, later in the same month, a reference for global traveler intelligence named ForwardKeys revealed that Addis Ababa's Bole International airport had overtaken Dubai as the main gateway to Sub Saharan Africa. Three months later, in February 2019, a new airport terminal building was opened, doubling capacity to 22 million passengers a year.
The country is blessed with a few significant assets which make it attractive to investors in hotels and other tourism related businesses. In addition to its strong economy and hub airport, Addis is the headquarters of the African Union, which makes it the most important destination for political and intergovernmental meetings in Africa. Indeed, hosting international meetings is a huge generator of foreign currency revenue. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Ethiopia's travel & tourism industry is responsible for 35.2% of total exports. It is also a sector that WTTC predicts will continue to grow at 4.0% per annum over the coming decade.
By moving location every year or two, AHIF has provided direct economic benefits to various African cities. A recent economic study by Grant Thornton revealed that hosting AHIF brings, on average, $1m in direct benefit to the local economy, an additional $1.4m in indirect benefit and a substantial six-figure sum in tax to the government. The study also estimated the value of deals done at the conference to be $4.4bn.
AHIF is organised by the global event organiser Bench Events, which has a long track record of delivering multiple premium hotel investment conferences and forums across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Market leading annual conferences include the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Dubai, now in its 14th year, the South American Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference (SAHIC), the Aviation Development Conference (AviaDev) and the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF). Earlier this year, Bench launched the Forum de l'Investissement Hôtelier Africain (FIHA), a sister event to AHIF, designed to appeal to the Francophone countries of North and West Africa, in a bid to develop their economies and support hotel and hospitality investment.