Speakers at the South American Hotel Investment Conference this week paint a picture of varied opportunities around the region.
GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador—The hotel investment picture around South America can’t be generalized, according to speakers at this year’s South American Hotel Investment Conference. Instead, each country and markets within those countries have their own opportunities and challenges.
Brazil is a big topic of conversation at the conference, taking place this week at the Hilton Colon Guayaquil. The recent Summer Olympics and 2014 World Cup led to hotel performance spikes; however, economic and political issues continue to dampen the short-term outlook for the region, according to industry analysts.
But some optimism still remains.
“Brazil is coming out of the bottom, and we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Ricardo Mader Rodrigues, managing director of advisory and asset management services for the Americas region for JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group, moderator of the “’Focus on Brazil” panel.
Its sheer size makes Brazil the constant leader in international tourist arrivals and hotel supply, and many speakers lauded the benefits of continuing to invest in the country. The country has approximately 40,000 guestrooms in its pipeline, which leads Latin America, followed by Mexico, Colombia and Peru, according to Patricia Boo, area director of Central and South America for HNN’s parent company STR.
Argentina and Peru were the other hot markets discussed during the first day of SAHIC.
“I have no doubts Argentina will be the country that will lead Latin America on the proper path,” said Alejandro Ginevra, president and CEO of Gnvgroup, on the “Southern Cone Forum” panel. “Argentina is leading; Brazil is facing some problems. Argentina is growing; Brazil is slowing down. I believe we have to bet on Argentina.”
Right now, Argentina’s hotel supply growth is relatively slow, growing 0.8% year to date, but Boo said “this is going to change.”
“The recovery of the economy of Argentina will move all the economies in the region,” said SAHIC president and founder Arturo García Rosa. “They’ll get investment. Argentinians will travel and have an impact on the other South American economies.”
But despite different opportunities in various countries, the overall goal for investors and hoteliers across the region must be a cohesive vision to drive tourism, said Sebastián Slobayan, undersecretary of the Argentinian Ministry of Tourism. “We need to think as a region,” he said. “We want to develop a cohesive vision as a region because it’s the only way we can position ourselves in a world where competitiveness rules.”
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“There’s an area that we don’t have (a brand) that we may need to be in at some point, and it’s in the leisure space.”
--Laurent de Kousemaeker, chief development officer for the Caribbean and Latin America region, Marriott International, in response to a question about Marriott’s new brand profile after acquiring Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide on the “View from the Top Part 1” panel. He said Marriott’s new South American footprint is 74 hotels and 19 brands. The Sheraton brand leads the way with 25 hotels.
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