KAHINI CHAKRABORTY – Durban
The Indian luxury brand Taj Group is keen on expanding its footprint in the African market. This decision has been taken as the Taj Cape Town has been well received in the market. Talking on the sidelines of the recently concluded Indaba 2013, Michael Pownall, general manager, Taj Cape Town informed that the group is considering expansion where the parent company Tata Group has business interests, which include Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique and many more. The company already has a property in Zambia. “The expansion will be mainly through management contracts and the company is hoping to add more properties by year-end. The expansion decision has been taken after the Taj Cape Town brand has been well received in the market as the primary agenda was to first make the Cape Town property stable and successful and then look at expansion,” he said. Asked as to which brand would be suitable for the expansion, Pownall opined that the Vivanta by Taj would be appropriate for the market instead of the luxury Taj Hotels.
Elaborating on the challenges that the property had to witness post its launch, Pownall said, “Taj Cape Town, which opened in March 2010 before the Soccer World Cup, initially witnessed a difficult period. Although the World Cup helped us, considering we were new and many hotels opened during the same period there was an over-supply of hotel rooms in the market. However, 2012 was a good year for the destination and the hotel industry as occupancies increased from 40 per cent to 61 per cent. Majority of the guests are South Africans followed by those from the US, India (18 per cent), UK and Germany.”
Pownall is working towards creating awareness about the hotel and has witnessed an increase in arrivals as a result. “We believe that we have to constantly keep living up to the high benchmark standards set by the group. We would like to see the volumes of leisure travellers increasing to our hotel. And India will become the third or fourth biggest source market for Africa in the coming years. According to me, there are chances of more growth from regional leisure and business travellers,” he added.