Salute to the memory of a giant of our times.
Marriott International is expected to become the biggest hotel chain on the African continent. The hotel giant recently signed a letter of intent to acquire the South African hotel chain, Protea Hotels, which operates 116 hotels across Sub-Saharan Africa. This transaction will nearly double Marriott’s distribution in Africa to more than 23,000 rooms and will make it one the largest hotel chains in Africa, as Protea Hotels currently has a significant presence in South Africa, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia
Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, said: “Africa has significant untapped potential for travel and tourism, both as a destination and source of new global travelers. The continent’s [gross domestic product] is anticipated to grow at over 5% annually over the next several years, which we expect will raise more people into the emerging middle class. With the Protea Hotels acquisition, our expanded footprint should allow us to become the first choice of Africa’s rapidly growing population of young, sophisticated travelers and drive loyalty to our Marriott Rewards program both within Africa and globally.”
Industry players in Southern Africa have welcomed the proposed takeover, saying it will bring about a significant shift in the hospitality sector. David Harper, head of property services at Hotel Partners Africa, explains: “This is a fantastic move from Marriott as it now gives them more flag hotels than any other operator in Sub-Saharan Africa, an area where there is a huge shortage of quality hotels.”
Alex Kyriakidis, president of Marriott International for the Middle East and Africa, admits that in the past Africa had posed a unique set of expansion complications for the hospitality industry, mainly because of infrastructural challenges. “But as regional economies grow and the political climate stabilizes, these are becoming fewer. Africa’s development cycle is now. Much of the continent is expecting to make GDP growth targets of between 5% and 7% this year, and predictions are for this to prevail in 2014. We believe bringing Marriott International and Protea Hospitality Group brands together will enable us to grow that much faster, which will in turn contribute to local economies and job creation.”
The proposed terms of the transaction are not being disclosed at this time. The parties stated that they plan to sign definitive agreements by year-end 2013, and the transaction could close in the first three months of 2014.
The United States and South Africa have negotiated a new aviation agreement, marking the first time the two countries have had a formal pact since the U.S. terminated an accord with South Africa in 1986 over that country's apartheid policy. While service resumed informally between the two countries in 1991, it has been at modest levels. The new accord will allow American Airlines and South African Airways to expand their code-sharing agreement.
According to the Department of Transportation, the agreement will gradually expand service over a five-year period. The carriers of each country may operate 11 weekly passenger flights during the first year, increasing to 21 by the fifth year. Cargo operations are set at four weekly flights the first year, increasing to nine over the phase-in period. Currently, U.S. carriers may operate only seven weekly flights.
Airlines from each country may operate code-sharing arrangements with a third-country airline. No later than 18 months from now, the U.S. will be allowed to have two such alliances, increasing to four in the fourth year of the agreement.
Other provisions of the new bilateral include access for U.S. airlines to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban plus code-sharing services to five other South African cities; access for South African carriers to New York, Miami and four other U.S. cities yet to be selected; and code-share services to 10 other cities, increasing to 25 cities on Nov. 1, 1998.
United's new policy for same flight cabin buy ups- In response to customer feedback, United has made a policy adjustment for travel agencies with customers who want to buy up to a higher cabin on the same flight for the same day of travel. Effective immediately, the change penalty associated with buying up to a higher fare and cabin will be waived for agency issued tickets if there is no change to the flight and date.
United's changes to unaccompanied minor policy Effective for tickets issued on or after December 5, 2013, United will only accept unaccompanied minors for travel on nonstop United or United Express operated flights.
Ages 5-11: Unaccompanied minor service is required and must be booked on nonstop itineraries. This change is similar to the policies of several U.S. airlines.
Ages 12-17: Unaccompanied minor service remains optional, but must be booked on nonstop flights if requested. Children younger than 5 are not accepted as unaccompanied minors on United or United Express flights. United will honor unaccompanied minor requests for tickets purchased prior to December 5, 2013, where connecting United or United Express flights were included in the original itinerary, including ticket exchanges. For complete information on United's unaccompanied minor travel service, eligibility and fees, please visit united.com.
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