AFRICA – Accor hotels, a French multinational hospitality company has reaffirmed its commitment to sustainable tourism development on the African continent at Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF 2019), as it unveils the world’s first Eco-Lodge Innovation Hub by Mantis, the brand in which it has a 50% stake.

The one-of-a-kind concept, which will be launched in early 2020 at South Africa’s famous Mantis Founders Lodge, will bring together conservation partners from across the globe to showcase the future of eco-travel to potential investors and sustainability-minded travellers.

Mantis will build five new room models known as ‘Innovate Hospitality Units’ close to the luxurious Founders Lodge – two tents, a pod, a log cabin and a treehouse that integrate the latest green technology on a site designed to showcase to business leaders and future travellers, alike, the vast possibilities of low eco impact accommodation and activities.

Mark Willis CEO Accor for Middle East & Africa, said “Mantis, a global pioneer of conservation tourism, is once again pushing the boundaries, creating a hub where experts can collaborate to give investors and guests a glimpse into the future of sustainable hospitality models and eco-experiences.”

“This bolsters Accor’s commitment to sustainable tourism development in Africa as we embrace innovation to pursue responsible expansion that supports local communities and protects and promotes wildlife and the natural environment.”

Eco-Lodge Innovation Hub is the combined brainchild of digital strategist and product innovator, Craig Llewellyn-Williams, and Paul Gardiner, CEO, Mantis.

 “As the heartland of conservation tourism, Founders Lodge is the natural home for our hub, providing an inspirational setting where suppliers can test, develop and showcase off-the grid accommodation and green energy innovations,” said Paul Gardiner.

The Mantis partnership has also strengthened Accor’s leadership position on the African continent, where it has been operating for more than 40 years and is an economic driving force with more hotel rooms than any other hospitality player.

The Group’s current footprint spans 25,826 rooms in 164 hotels across 22 countries and five new hotels with a combined 705 rooms have been signed year to date, growing its total Africa pipeline to 13,642 keys across 61 properties.

Mantis, one of 12 Accor brands represented in Africa, operates 19 properties in South Africa and is due to launch seven new projects by the end of 2020 across five destinations – Rwanda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria.

The Sub-Saharan region has emerged as a development hotspot for Accor, firmed up with new signings in Kenya and Ethiopia in the east and Nigeria in the west, with 8,555 keys scheduled to open in these markets over the next two years.