JOHANNESBURG – Marriott International confirmed on Thursday that its property development partner, Amdec Group, would spend R3 billion ($218 million) on five new hotels in South Africa as the company looks to tap Africa’s growing middle class.

Marriott, which last month won the final clearance to buy rival Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, said three of the hotels would be built in Cape Town while two are already under construction in Johannesburg.

Amdec Group will inject the funds into the development of the hotels as part of its growing partnership with Marriott.

“Africa is particularly important to Marriott International’s expansion strategy because of the continent’s rapid economic growth, expanding middle class and youth population,” Marriott chief executive Arne Sorenson said in statement.

The owner of up-market chains such as Ritz Carlton and Sheraton says the developments will lift its number of hotels on the continent to just over 200, with more than 27 000-plus rooms.

The five hotels are expected to create 8 000 building-related jobs while under construction and over 700 long-term hospitality jobs, Marriott said.

Marriott is already Africa’s biggest hotel operator, having bought leading chain Protea in 2014. The new hotels will operate under the Marriott brand, the company said. ($1 = R13.7575)

This article was first published in MoneyWeb on 6 October 2016.