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“Security is key,” said Alex Kyriakidis, Marriott’s president and managing director for the Middle East and Africa, who noted business challenges amid the so-called Arab Spring. “Egypt occupancy has crashed. This is the test that Kenya has to confront.”

Kenya’s last presidential election resulted in more than 1,000 violent deaths. The country’s tourism minister, Danson Mwazo, told the Associated Press there is “absolutely zero chance” of violence during its next election in March.

The greatest prize in Africa for Marriott is domestic tourism, said Mr. Kyriakidis. Southern Africa will be the fastest-growing region in the world for Marriott in the coming years.

It has room to grow on the continent. Of its 420,000 hotel rooms worldwide, only 4,000 — 1 percent — are in Africa, said Trevor Ward the managing director of W Hospitality Group.

More are coming. Mr. Ward said Hilton now has nine hotels and 3,380 rooms in the pipeline across Africa; Movenpick has 12 and 2,182; Radisson Blue has 14 and 3,429; Ibis has 19 and 2,632. Many of those developments are in North Africa.