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29 September 2012 | Adam Leach
Economic growth across Africa is increasing demand for business travel across the region, with African carriers cutting cross-continental routes to make way for more flights to cities in Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana.
According to travel management company Hogg Robinson Group (HRG) demand is particularly strong in countries other than South Africa, putting its place as the most popular destination for business travel on the continent in jeopardy. The increase in demand is because while economies across the world continue to stagnate, countries in Africa are experiencing growth across sectors.
HRG identified Ghana, which recorded growth of more than 14 per cent last year, as one of the destinations that is growing in popularity. It also cited Kenya and Nigeria as seeing a rise in traffic. But it explained while the numbers of travellers are rising, the costs of travel are yet to decline significantly.
The company’s latest Hotel Survey found room rates in the Nigerian city of Lagos are now the second most expensive in the world for business travellers. It said that this is because there are not yet a sufficient number of quality hotels to meet the needs of business travellers, resulting in a lack of competition to drive down prices.
Chris Schuitmaker, manager for regional business & partner management, Africa at HRG, explained while challenges remain, such as the need to improve infrastructure and security, the region is on the up. “Roads are being built, airports upgraded, hotels are springing up everywhere and internet and telecommunication connectivity is improving everyday,” he said. “All the signs are that Africa is beginning to realise its huge and undoubted potential as a major business destination.”
HRG also explained that demand within Africa to travel to other countries in the continent was growing. It cited the fact that South African Airways has removed its London to Cape Town route in order to enable it to put on more flights to neighbouring countries.