NAIROBI, May 23 (Reuters) - Sweden's Rezidor Group AB plans to increase by 60 percent the number of hotels it operates in sub-Saharan Africa to 120 in the next four years to take advantage of growing business travel, its regional head said on Tuesday.
The company has been focusing on Africa due to growing demand for well-known accommodation brands, such as its Radisson Blu hotels. Such brands are estimated at about a third of the available room capacity in the region. The rest are independently-run hotels.
Other global chains that have opened branches in markets such as Kenya in recent years include Marriott and Kempinski.
Rezidor's regional support office in South Africa employs dozens of staff, up from just three employees a decade ago.
"For the last two years, every 60 days we have opened a new hotel in Africa," Andrew McLachlan, the group's senior vice president for Africa, told Reuters during the opening of its second hotel in the Kenyan capital.
"We really felt that there was an imbalance between supply and demand in a lot of African countries and a lot of African cities," he said.
The group opened a five-star hotel under its Radisson Blu brand in Nairobi last year, to cater for wealthy clients. The second hotel, a Park Inn Radisson, offers 140 rooms to mid-scale consumers in a smart suburb of the city.
A third hotel is under construction in Kenya and will open next year, McLachlan said, adding they also wanted to have five hotels in both Tanzania and Ethiopia in the expansion phase.
"We have 16,500 rooms in Africa today. By the end of 2020 we would like to get to 23,000 rooms in Africa," said McLachlan.
McLachlan said Rezidor's strategy on the continent was about 80 percent focused on business travel to help ride out the occasional dampener on the leisure market, including the outbreak of diseases such as Ebola or militant attacks. (Editing by Katharine Houreld and Susan Thomas)