The 14th International Hotel Investment Forum closed yesterday with the “Country Forum” where, according to the organisers, opportunistic investors can find hidden gems. Sessions focusing on Spain, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Colombia and Argentina provided the attendees with key information on countries that offer exceptional investment opportunities. All presentations were impressive with each of the countries offering unique and very different investment opportunities for developers and operators.
TDN talked in some more depth with Emiliano Parrilli who is the coordinator for Europe of the Argentinean National Institute of Tourism Promotion about the exciting opportunities that this emerging destination offers for the hospitality and tourism industry.
TravelDailyNews: Emiliano, the presentation today completely reversed the impression that many attendees had about Argentina’s state of economy. Many still think the period of 2001 and do not consider that a lot of water ran under the bridge since then.
Emiliano Parrilli: Indeed, Argentina has made strides since then. Then the recession hit us again in 2009 and GDP growth dropped to 0.8% but in 2010 it went up again to 8.5%. We can say that the country has definitely entered a positive phase of its economic history.
TDN: Where does tourism stand in this recovery?
It has become a “state policy” and a “cause” for all of us. But also from a legislative point of view there is a national law passed in 2006 which sets the “Federal Strategic Plan of Sustainable Tourism” (Spanish abbreviation PFETS) through to 2016. Briefly, it sets five strands with clear action plans and objectives focusing on authentic Argentina, natural Argentina, gastronomic Argentina, active Argentina (sports and activities) and meetings/conferences in Argentina.
TDN: An interesting statistic you showed us today was Argentina’s market share in South American tourism.
E. P.: Yes. Many people think that we would lag far behind Brazil but the reality is that we have a market share of 22% in terms of arrivals as opposed to 24% of Brazil and 25% in terms of revenues as opposed to 29% of Brazil. And to impress you more with numbers, you have to consider that in the past 15 years the tourist arrivals grew by 145% and the tourism revenues by 305%.
TDN: Is this reflected in the supply of hotel rooms?
E. P.: Two more numbers and I will stop here: the hotel supply from 2003 to 2009 increased by 51% whereas the total investment in accommodation for the same period increased by 908%.
TDN: What is the value proposition that you are making to international hotel developers and investors? Why should they invest in Argentina?
E. P.: Apart from the high demand for an excellent tourist destination for a very diverse market – do not forget that we have 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites - that will provide them with a lucrative ROI there is a strong commitment to strengthen our tourism and, for this, we are putting our money where our mouth is: PFETS mandates an annual investment of $184 million on infrastructure. On the top of that there is additional investment of $56 million for two specific areas: the ‘lake corridor’ in Patagonia and the Iguazu National Park. However, and most important perhaps from an investment point of view is that, with the law 21.382 , international investors are able to transfer abroad net profits obtained by their ROI and repatriate their investment in any moment. Within this carefully designed development framework we are offering low-risk high-reward opportunities and are looking forward to discuss with any interested party. '
TDN: So, what is the message you would like to send to potential investors?
E. P.: Clearly, there is no better time than today for anyone to look for opportunities in Argentina. We have a clear development strategy backed up by all the local tourism stakeholders and we are ready to support any serious entrepreneur who would consider Argentina as a destination for investment.