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IHCL to expand in Africa

Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL), which operates Taj Hotels, is looking to expand its portfolio in Africa. The company is scouting sites and is in discussion for establishments in Zambia, Kenya and Malawi, among others. This information was provided by Michael Pownall, GM, Taj Cape Town, on the sidelines of Indaba 2013. According to Pownall, IHCL is on the lookout for management contracts, and will start with the acquisition of a 15-year-old property in Zambia to be launched soon.

Speaking about the Taj Cape Town property, Pownall stated that 2012 was a good year for the hotel. “The year we launched, 2010, was a difficult one. However, it was developed in time for the World Cup which helped bookings for the period tremendously. Unfortunately, several other establishments came up to serve the period as well, leading to an oversupply once the World Cup was over. 2011 was hence difficult. Fortunately, 2012 has picked up and we recorded a 40 per cent growth,” he revealed.

The overall occupancy in 2012 was 61 per cent, which was an increase from the 20 per cent seen in year one and 40 per cent in year two of the property’s existence. Taj Cape Town has also recorded an approximate revenue growth of 60 per cent. He further added that the Q1 of 2013, which is a peak season for South Africa, has been a good season for occupancy and revenue as well.

“Taj was not a well known brand when we started off in 2010. However, the Indian luxury brand has been well received and picked up rapidly. The India market is critical and increasing but in small numbers. UK, USA and Germany are still our strongest source markets, while domestic bookings dominate occupancy. India will probably become the third or fourth largest source market for us by 2014 as Indian footfall to South Africa is increasing and the property is similar to the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai – caters to business, leisure and group travel effectively,” concluded Pownall.

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