Accor Group, a global chain of hotels operating 17 000 rooms (116 hotels) in 18 countries, said last week that it was planning to expand its wings on the continent by opening 5 000 new rooms in sub-Saharan Africa by 2016.
The announcement was made in Dakar, Senegal, by Accor chairman and CEO Denis Hennequin, who also took the opportunity to launch Planet 21, a new sustainable development program he said will involve all the group’s hotels and customers.
Sub-Saharan Africa, where Accor has 54 hotels in 14 countries, is a key area for the group which aims to open 35 hotels there by 2020, Hennequin said.
The next establishment to open in sub-Saharan Africa is the Ibis Lagos Ikeja in Nigeria in spring 2013, he said.
Accor employs 11 000 people in Africa, including 3 000 in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2012, Accor Africa welcomed 1 846 trainees in 14 countries, and provided 517 days of training to employees in sub-Saharan Africa.
On the Planet 21, Hennequin said the sustainability 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, he said, 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.
The group’s sub-Saharan hotels have over the last few years focused on four flagship projects: tree planting, employee health and well-being, careers and training and responsible fishing.
Since 2009, Accor said it has supported 14 plantations in Senegal 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”.
Accor said 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.
The company said a total of 1.25 million trees have been planted on the site, adding that 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 organisation of a timber exploitation business).
*Photo by AccorHotels.com. Mercure Bedfordview Hotel in Johannesburg.