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Accor has hight hopes for sub-Saharan Africa

Helena Tzioti - 28 February 2013, 11:39

Accor is Africa’s largest hotel operator with 17,000 rooms (116 hotels) in 18 countries. It is now stepping up its expansion on this continent and aims to open another 5,000 rooms there by 2016.

Sub-Saharan Africa, where Accor has 54 hotels from economy to upscale in 14 countries, is a key area for the group, which aims to open 35 hotels there by 2020.

Accor sees opportunity in the area’s economic growth, the urbanization of its large cities, and the growing demand for hotels. It plans to expand principally through its economy and midscale brands ibis and Novotel, but Accor will also expand through its Mercure and Pullman brands as and when opportunities arise in the most important cities. The group plans to create denser networks in countries where it already operates and open hotels in new markets. The next establishment to open in sub-Saharan Africa is the ibis Lagos Ikeja in Nigeria (in spring 2013).

“After operating for many years in Africa, we have high hopes for this continent and are now stepping up our expansion here. By launching our sustainable development program, PLANET 21, in Africa we are asserting our commitment to responsible growth” declared Denis Hennequin, Accor’s Chairman and CEO. Accor launches PLANET 21 in Africa, to reinvent hotels… sustainably.

Sub-Saharan Africa, a key development area
PLANET 21 is the new sustainable development program that involves all Accor’s hotels and customers. The program is structured into seven pillars – health, nature, carbon, innovation, local development, employment and dialogue, which in turn comprise 21 commitments backed by ambitious quantifiable objectives that the hotels must meet by 2015. PLANET 21 includes an innovative program that uses an array of educational messages to inform and encourage customers to contribute actively to the hotels’ actions through a few simple gestures.

Accor’s approach to sustainable development places particular emphasis on local problems. For example, over the last few years, the efforts of the group’s sub-Saharan hotels have focused on four flagship projects: tree planting in the Lompoul Kebemer region, employee health and well-being, careers and training and responsible fishing.

Ever since 2009, Senegal has been home to one of the 14 plantations supported by Accor as part of the Plant for the Planet project which finances reforestation around the world thanks to the hotel bathroom formula “5 reused towels = 1 tree planted”. To date, 590 hotels, including 14 in Africa and two in Senegal, are taking part in this reforestation funding project, which is carried out in partnership with the NGO SOS SAHEL. A total of 1,251,000 trees have been planted on the site and significant benefits are being felt both environmentally (less erosion, villages and fields shielded from the sand) and socially (creation of new revenue-generating activities for the communities involved and organization of a timber exploitation business).

Accor has made the health and well-being of its teams a priority with E-care, a website available to all the hotels in the region that aims to help prevent illnesses (HIV/Aids, malaria, diabetes, etc.) and psycho-social risks (high blood pressure, stress, etc.).

Accor is behind the creation of 11,000 jobs in Africa, including 3,000 in sub-Saharan Africa, and believes that employees’ and future employees’ careers and training are of vital importance. In 2012, Accor Africa welcomed 1,846 trainees in 14 countries, and provided 3 252 days of training to employees in sub-Saharan Africa.

The group’s African hotels are also committed to supporting local development. 82% of them purchase local products and promote them on their menus. In Senegal, a guide to sustainable seafood procurement, produced in collaboration with expert NGO Nebeday, has been used in all the group’s hotels since 2012.

With PLANET 21, Accor’s African hotels, which already boasted encouraging results in all these areas, are now taking another step towards sustainable hospitality.

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