LATAM e-News – April 2018
Arturo´s Letter

Arturo García Rosa
President & Founder, SAHIC

Colombia, the wonder of a transformative revolution

Finally, Colombia has arrived to the tourism elite in South America regarding number of international tourists received annually.

Historically, Brazil and Argentina, in that order excepting year 2011, have been clear leaders standing alone in the segment of 6+ million tourist arrivals per year.

Also, historically, there has been a second segment in which Chile, Peru, Uruguay and Colombia were placed, which were around 3 million international annual arrivals, some a little less, other closer to 4.

But 2017 has broken this long lasting rule and two new players were enthroned in the highest segment, Chile and Colombia. Both of them around 6.5 million, consolidating a growth that was evident in the last year and that it seemed, at least certainly for the case of Colombia, that it is a curve that has still not shown its best. In the words of the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, María Lorena Gutierrez, during her speech in the opening of the Tourism Investment Forum 2018 organized by the government of that country, last April 25th in Bogotá, “Tourism industry in Colombia is still not showing all its cards.”

In the light of what I have personally been able to experience during these past fifteen years in contact with the world of hotels and tourism in that country, and what somehow, more or less consciously in the presentation of many of the speakers in the aforementioned forum has become clear, I am absolutely certain that growth in hotel and tourism business in Colombia will continue in the coming years.

Regarding the reasons for demand growth, which of course, would be impossible without a supply growth such as the one Colombia has undergone in the recent years, not only it can’t be stopped in this aspect, but also wouldn’t be fair to focus in the law that promoted investment in hotels (new hotels and improvement of the existing ones) by which taxes were waived for 30 years to all those who chose to take advantage of the benefits of that law.

If we only think that at the beginning of the 2000’s most of the young Colombians only knew their country through the story telling of the elder people. To travel by land even to the outskirts of big cities was really unthinkable. It was the well-known “caravans” instrumented by former president Uribe (2002-2010) the ones that allowed, with the concentration of security forces protecting the citizens from attacks and threats from the FARC, the ones which started to allow that the elder rediscover their land while the youngest begin to enjoy it.

A long time has passed, or maybe short, it depends on how you look at it, but sometimes it sounds unbelievable. As the proliferation of the public and private security forces in almost all public and private buildings. Office buildings, hotels and parking lots among others, displayed in a conspicuously ostensible manner uniformed personnel with dogs that sniffed at each living creature that was intended to enter any of those. When arriving to the airport, security measures justified by what was happening, reached the paroxysm of making the most normal of the mortals feel like a criminal.

It seems like yesterday and somehow, in times of other peoples, it really is, when we see that days and hours do not seem to go by, at least if it is measured in necessary transformations for the improvement of its population.

“The only risk is wanting to stay” (, the very thoughtful campaign that Colombia showcased to the world in 2008. Ten years and it is now “an antique”. Six and a half million tourist in 2017 and growing, leave no place to doubts, that people more and more, have one or many of the various destinations of Colombia among their “must”. Those who have already visited the country, have returned over and over again, those who have not yet done so, have it among their important pendants and for upcoming attention.

Its people, its music, its tremendous natural resources, its biodiversity (the richest by square km), as the renowned specialist and National Geographic Traveler editor said “If biodiversity had a name, it should be Colombia”.

In short, multiple reasons, but there is one that I am certain that is the source of everything, the Colombians themselves. Men and women, old and young, government officials, business men and women and even children, outstanding people and above all, common men and women that wake up every day and make possible this reality that is Colombia.

A country that has undergone one of the most horrendous atrocities of mankind, as has been the armed confrontation that has extended for more than 50 years. An asymmetric war, as some define it, provoked by the attitude of the guerrilla, mainly in the hands of the FARC and groups such as ELN and EPL.

A war that has been finished by the wonder of a transformative revolution faced by the majority of the Colombian people, conducted by the leaders that they learned to give themselves.

In the closing of the referred investment forum that took place past Thursday 25th, that was conducted by key people of the Colombian industry, successful businessmen, clever people, prepared and very committed to the destiny of their own country.

Their vicissitudes, their achievements, some failures but their continuous struggle are a vivid example of that wonderful revolution I mention. A hard task, of every day, of many days, with achievements and upsetting experiences, but with the reward of knowing that they were in the good path.

It is then natural that the description of what needs to be done arises, of the problems to solve, the deficiencies that must be corrected, of the times to solve things and so many other things that we all know. “Beans are cooked everywhere” says an old Spanish phrase.

As I liked to remember in the closing words of the event, in the space that was gently ceded by the government to remind the upcoming edition of the 11th edition of SAHIC South America (September 24 and 25 in the beautiful city of Medellin, the second in importance of Colombia), it is almost always like this, we tend to believe that the neighbor’s grass is greener.

Beyond the veracity of the subject or not, the truth is that improvement is like change, something permanent and, if this way to see reality is useful as an incentive to keep improving, let’s welcome it.

Looking backwards, a time that as I have mentioned, sometimes seems that was yesterday and in other times that was so long ago, whichever the personal point of view, the reality is that the work done has been incommensurable, a real transformative revolution. But the work continues, in the path of development, the transformation, of life in general, one never arrives, you are always in the route towards a destination that is renewed in each achievement and each setback.

Therefore, it is a good practice to get used to listen for a moment the applause for the work so well done, celebrate it eagerly, but at the same time recharge energy to keep on working for what it is yet to come.

As law people, attorneys and judges among others like to say “he who can do the most, can do the least”.

A country that has achieved what Colombia has, will know to outperform itself for the benefit of its inhabitants and all those that know how to seize the opportunities of this big country.

A country with clear regulations, stable, democratic, that makes of improvement one of its most powerful weapons, even in situations when many usually give up. A different county where opportunities multiply and in the hotel and tourism business presents one of its highlights.

I invite you to discover them.

SAHIC South America next September 24 & 25 in Medelllín, will be one of the big opportunities to do so.

LATAM e-News – April 2018
Interview: Paulo Caputo

Paulo Caputo
President, Atrio Hotels

1- Could you describe Atrio´s unique business model?
Atrio is a 30 years old independent hotel operator. We are very focused on managing hotels, pursuing the highest possible profitability for the proprieties. To achieve that we rely on brands that give us visibility and hotel technology, so we can focus on guest service and profitability. We are also a real estate player, since we invest in most of the hotels we manage.

2- Today, Atrio is the largest franchisee of Accor in Brazil and has been developing its hotel brands since over 25 years ago. What are the advantages of developing all these brands for an international hotel chain?
We keep our company lean and focused, avoiding excessive investments in marketing and distribution. Also, for hotel investors, is a lot safer to invest in branded hotels, especially if you have an efficient operator.

3- What can you say about Atrio´s expansion plans in the future?
We just signed a long-term management agreement with HSI (a large Brazilian REIT) to add 16 hotels to our portofolio. With that we became one of the top 5 operators in Brazil, and since our economy is expanding again many other projects will come. Atrio will end 2018 operating 54 hotels in 41 cities and more than 7.000 rooms.

4- Which are the conditions you evaluate when deciding on a new hotel development?
Profitability for the owners. We are obsessed with that!

5- How do you see the evolution of hotel industry in Brazil in the last years?
Brazil has been bumpy. Expansions and crises, rapid changing environment. Despite of that we had many new hotels, thanks to the condo-hotel model and big events. Now with the expanding economy we expect a more sustainable growth for the coming years.

6- Which cities do you think represent today a good opportunity in the market and for which segments?
For branded hotels you can not go for small cities. We believe the best opportunities are on capital cities and cities above 350.000 inhabitants, within economic and mid-scale segments. Convention and leisure hotels, close to large cities, are also a good option. Conventions will grow too.

7- How would you describe your participation in SAHIC South America? In your opinion, how does this type of conferences contribute to the hotel industry?
It was very good, I met interesting people and increased my personal network. It was also good to see how our industry is evolving in the region, what the big players are doing.

8- Which social network do you use most often and why?
I like Facebook for quick access to news and Instagram for entertainment.

9- When you travel for pleasure, where do you choose to stay: hotel or Airbnb?
Hotels, definitely. Airbnb is good only when you are on a large family and staying many days at the same place.


Mechanical engineer by Federal University of Santa Catarina with MBA by FGV-SP. Started his career at IBM Brazil as a test engineer, with assignments at IBM Japan and US. Later assumed a role as a Project manager at IBM Brazil. Left IBM to work for Pizza Hut Brazil, developing stores in SC and SP, as a general manager of a master franchisee. His hotelier career started at Accor Brazil, as a general manager.

Later was a founder of Atrio Hoteis S/A, today the largest franchisee of Accor in Brazil, with more than 50 hotels under operation. Currently is a partner and the CEO of Atrio Hotéis S/A.

To contact Paulo Caputo:
To learn more about Atrio Hotels, visit:

LATAM e-News – April 2018
Who is Who: Carlos Achong

Who is Who
Carlos Achong
Regional Director, South America, Best Western

Carlos Achong is the Regional Director for Best Western Hotels & Resorts in South America, with its operational base in Lima, Peru. Its main objective is to develop the brand within South America with the 11 flags that the hotel network has.

He is a Mathematician, graduated from Trinity College, University of Cambridge and later does his Hotel Management in England.

He started his hotel career with Hilton in Venezuela, covering the positions of IT Manager and later Operations Director. Next, the hotel division of Carnival Cruise Lines, which was later transferred to Wyndham, is contracted for the start-up of its hotel as Resident Manager in Venezuela.

He was a Partner of Horwath International and covered the area of Venezuela and Central America to perform operational audits and feasibility studies.

He managed a Best Western hotel in Caracas and grew the presence of the brand to have 10 hotels. In 2012 he was appointed Regional Director for Best Western Hotels & Resorts for South America.

It is noteworthy that under his management he managed to have the first and only hotel certified in its entirety with ISO 9001 in Venezuela.

Carlos Achong is currently Vice President of the AmCham Tourism Committee in Peru and is actively working with the government to present a tax incentive plan for tourism in that country.

To contact Carlos Achong:
To learn more about Best Western visit:

LATAM e-News – March 2018
Arturo´s Letter

Arturo García Rosa
President & Founder, SAHIC

Local or visitor?

In football terms, the question is clear: playing at home is something else.

“At home” we are the favorites, we know all the details, nooks and crannies and secrets of the place, the “trapos” (flags, banners, drums and some other “little toys” specially prepared for the occasion) are there at hand. If things go well, “we are all there”. If luck is a bit adverse or the weather is not good, “we are a few less”. But at home it’s something else, we have a good time and if the team wins, which we “don’t doubt” until reality tells us otherwise, all the better. If we lose, the shelter of friends, the house or the bar are all a good haven to quench our sorrows.

Playing as a visitor is something different.

You have to hire buses (or the plane if you have to travel a long distance and can afford it) to take both players and fans. When playing as local or visitor, fans complete the game. There’s nothing more cruel than playing a game behind closed doors. When you get to the big leagues, you play for the grandstand and if they are empty, or only with a few who managed to circumvent inconveniences and restrictions, we are overcome with great disquiet and a state of great frustration takes over both players and authorities. If you win as a visitor, you have the pleasure of defeating the locals in their own home but if you lose, the return is hard and especially endless. Why on earth have we made the effort to go there?

Because of my roots, in the environment of people who made football their greatest passion and which gave two of the greatest players in history, Maradona first and Messi later, I allow myself to use this metaphor in the belief that the passage of so many years in life and industry (for now I will reveal only those of the latter: this year they will be 41 in the industry, the others I keep for another time or leave them for the reader’s deduction) make that almost everything is forgiven to embryos of old people like me.

When we decided to launch SAHIC, back in the crest of the real estate wave that crushed almost together with the opening of its first edition, we had no doubt that playing local was something else. To such an extent that, thanks to fanaticism, we firmly stuck to stay local and we started in Buenos Aires despite the fact that by then, thanks to miles and miles on airplanes and accumulating year after year the highest category in at least two airlines (for Latin Americans, only one airline still does not cover all the needs to connect with the entire world), my Buenos Aires heart had adopted Latin America as its guardian.

With over 40 years in the industry, visiting first, participating more actively later and finally becoming one of its speakers has been a constant in the largest investment events in the industry: NYU, Berlin, Forum and many others.

In all of them, it was discussed in one way and another that the Latin America, Mexico or Brazil chapter and, depending on the waves, some other destinations in our region, had their place.

We, the Latin Americans, were encouraged to participate in those events trying to contact new players, mainly new investors. In short, that is what broadening the basis of what we have is about.

We have done it and we will continue to do it. The development of the hotel and tourism industry in Latin America must continue, and for this to happen it is necessary to promote our strengths, exhibit our opportunities and attract new players to join those who are already doing so.

The task of investment promotion is a long one and it requires a plan, a strategy and a set of actions, which includes playing as visitors and doing the best job in order to take advantage of the effort that this requires.

Playing as locals also implies efforts, but at home it’s something else, we have everything. As I said, “at home” we are the favorites, we know all the details, nooks and crannies and secrets of the place, “all the trapos” are there at hand.

That is why SAHIC was conceived as an investment promotion platform taking place in the region. We had no doubt that this was the way to facilitate bringing together local players and destinations and a conglomerate of important international players.

SAHIC South America already has 10 editions. One first edition in Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean, and one first edition in Central America, Costa Rica, are just the beginning of a work which is renewed at the beginning of the second decade of SAHIC, a platform that allows us to play as locals to open up our destinations and opportunities to a large universe of international players who face the challenge of investing in a world that is changing at an ever-increasing rate, where once unpredictable markets like most of our own begin to become more and more reliable and stable than those that for years claimed from us what many of them seem hesitant to hold today.

All of us who make SAHIC are obliged to make this tool more and more current, more professional and more effective every day, and to make it available to the entire industry to support the largest investment promotion platform in the hotel and tourism industry in Latin America.

We are grateful for the constant support of all those who trust us year after year, event after event, enabling SAHIC to be a powerful tool for the development of tourism throughout the region.

At SAHIC, everyone wins, both locals and visitors.

See you soon, in one of the meetings of this year 2018.

LATAM e-News – March 2018
Interview: Juan Francisco Scalesciani

Juan Francisco Scalesciani
Executive Vice President of Dysyn Group

1- More than 10 years ago, Dysyn Group made its debut in the hotel industry with the remodeling and construction of the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt. How would you describe the experience and your role in this project?
Personally, it was a unique experience. The construction of a top-notch hotel is not only a great engineering project, but it is also an experiment in the best possible design so that the guest lives an experience at all times while on the property.

As a group it was very rewarding, especially because it made the whole family participate in the project. The experience was arduous and not without difficulties, but the effort was quickly rewarded with satisfaction.

2- Has the group expanded in the construction of other hotels? Where and why?
We have not yet expanded in the field. Mainly because of a question of priorities in our portfolio.

3- What is the group’s strategy and objectives regarding hotel investments in the region?
We are always analyzing projects, mainly in Argentina and Latin America. At this moment, Argentina is presenting good opportunities for some particular areas, and tourism is one of them. We have a project under analysis for several cities in the interior of Argentina.

4- As for real estate developments, could you mention the projects with the greatest impact in recent times?
Personally, outside the hotel business, I like the concept of developments such as Al Rio, in Buenos Aires, where a combination of products and high density is generated in urban areas.

5- How do you see the evolution of the luxury segment in the region?
I see an interesting evolution in the segment, in what is defined as luxury. Experiences rule. New generations demand different things than the previous ones and today it is necessary to be able to satisfy both.

As far as products and branding are concerned, many new things are being seen in the world, but I still don’t see them settled in our region. Luxury investment requires a lot of capital and that’s why you need slightly higher rates than the current ones.

6- What is your vision of the tourism industry in Argentina? What do you think are the trends in tourism in the country?
Argentina should be a country where tourism is one of the main sources of income. It meets all the characteristics for this, due to its extension and variety of cities and ecosystems.

But for this, it is necessary to develop infrastructure much more, be it roads, facilities, aerial routes and even service-oriented human resources. However, I note that most of the shortfalls are identified and work is ongoing. It can even be seen in the growth in passenger numbers in the last years with a very good trend.

7- Could you mention the advantages and opportunities that the region presents today for hotel construction or remodeling?
I believe that the main opportunity is the region’s development potential.

8- How would you describe your participation in SAHIC South America? In your opinion, how does this type of conference contribute to the hotel industry?
I think it was a great experience where I could meet and listen to many voices. And I particularly appreciate being able to exchange ideas with people who know a lot about the industry and who are also decision makers.

9- Which social network do you use most often and why?
I’m registered on all of them and I don’t use practically any. Instagram to see what my friends are up to.

10- When you travel for pleasure, where do you choose to stay: hotel or Airbnb?


Juan is Executive Vice President of the Dysyn group which is the Scalesciani´s family holding.

It includes investments mainly in pharma and real estate industries.

He started his participation in the hotel business overseeing El Rosario S.A. and has been actively involved with the remodeling and construction of Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt Buenos Aires.

Since its opening in 2006 the Palacio Duhau has become one of the most awarded hotels in South America. Defined by Travel & Leisure as an icon of luxury and sophistication.

To contact Juan Francisco Scalesciani:

LATAM e-News – March 2018
Who is Who: Salo Smaletz

Who is Who
Salo Smaletz
Vice President Development Latin America, InterContinental Hotels Group – IHG

Salo Smaletz is the Vice-President Development for Latin America for InterContinental Hotels Group.

Salo graduated from Fundaçao Armando Alvares Penteado in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1990 with a bachelor in Business Administration and Marketing. He ran his Tour Operator business in Brazil until 1997 when he moved to Miami, Florida to pursue a Master’s Degree in Hospitality and Food Science at Florida International University. Upon his graduation in 1999 he worked for Hilton International as a corporate trainee in Chicago and Toronto and as Development Director in the Miami Area Office until he joined IHG in 2006.

Salo oversees development in 18 countries and together with his team has been responsible for the addition/retention of over 60 hotels/9,000 rooms in the past twelve years.

To contact Salo Smaletz:

To learn more about Accor Hotels visit:

LATAM e-News – February 2018
Arturo´s Letter

Arturo García Rosa
President & Founder, SAHIC

South America in a new era of opportunities.

A quick look at the performance of the tourism business in the last year in the region, which were described in last month’s article, plus some changes that have occurred and others that are expected to occur soon in some of the countries of the Southern Cone and predict that what happened in 2017 will be just the tip of the iceberg of what will come and looks like a new growth process that deserves to be taken into account.

I pointed out in the mentioned article the confirmation of a predicted surprise: Chile and Colombia moving up from the second segment to the first, in the ranking of the great players of the region.

That segment, historically dominated by the two largest economies of the region, Brazil and Argentina, will no longer be a two-player segment.


Colombia is definitely moving forward on a decisive path of growth, confirming that the path of peace has given back the possibilities of development that have seemed numb for a long time.

This has been a long road that began in the era of President Uribe, continued with his successor Santos and promises to continue in the years to come. A society that has matured out of adversity and understood that long-term strategies, common objectives, no mater what party colors, almost always ensure achieving superior objectives.

This year presidential elections will take place in Colombia. On May 27th, the first round will be held where it will be necessary to obtain half plus one of the votes in order to be proclaimed winner, otherwise there will be a second round on June 17th.


Although the undisputed leader of 2017 has been Chile, I decided to mention the country in the second place based on the dependency that its growth has had on the Argentine market, which has contributed 52% of arrivals in the past year, something that, as many point out, can turn into a threat in the future.

Personally, I believe that Chile, perhaps the most stable economy in the region, has undoubtedly raised its floor and it will be difficult to move the country from that first segment of great South American players.

While comparisons do not always work well, the same has always been said about Mexico in relation to the United States of America. However, despite the political and economic ups and downs, it remains one of the world’s greatest players.

Next March 11th, Piñera will return to assume his second presidential term succeeding Ms. Bachelet. A notorious change of color that society surprisingly supported in the polls and that has caused optimism not only among Chileans but the world in general. Everything suggests that the economy will have a growth cycle ahead that will, in any case, have an impact on the hotel business and tourism.


Brazil, the great engine of the region hit by a series of implosions that impacted on the political scene, breaking the path of economic growth that will dazzle the entire world, is preparing for the presidential elections that will take place on October 7th.

(Woop, it seems that that day is meant to be an important day for Brazil, for the region, for the world and particularly for me, and please excuse me for the reference. It seemed unthinkable that one day I could reach the age I would accumulate that day. Woop! Unbelievable!)

The uncertainty is great regarding who will finally be in charge of the destinies of the largest economy in the region, although with the recent confirmation of the increasingly certain possibility that former president Lula may not be part of the next election process, it is more likely that a change of course, the change in direction that the market expects, may be possible. However, even though timidly, the signs of recovery have begun to end a long and painful recessionary process that did so much damage to the country and the region in general.


In relation to Argentina, apart from the local uncertainty, where the painful process of the Kirchnerist period has been devastating both for its economy and for the morale of a large part of its population, the confirmation that society has made of the new course through the results of last year’s mid-term elections, has encouraged the incipient arrival of foreign investment, which is undoubtedly, although still timid, the beginning of what will be a long growth process that will be clearly demonstrated in the next years. Argentina is beginning to unleash that swarm left by the long Kirchnerist night in order not only to reverse its economic disasters but, more importantly, to begin to walk the road of recovering the values that have made that country a model to follow, that had everything to be a world power and lost it seduced by the “Lady of Eternal Bonanza”.


Regarding the country whose economy has grown the most in the last years in South America, it is worth mentioning that the Odebrecht scandal has had a decisive impact on its economy and politics, perhaps like no other country in the region beyond Brazil.

The fall of one of the largest Peruvian economic conglomerates such as Graña y Montero has impacted not only on the group but also on part of the country’s economy, to the point that some economists claim that some point of the lower GDP growth is due to such fall.

On the political sphere, the recent scandal that involved President Kuczynski took place and that threatened his continuity as such, putting him in the position of having to lead important changes in his cabinet again.

In almost any country in the world, such combination could have been critical, if not lethal, as in some way happens in Brazil. However, Peru shows with these episodes that its growth in the last years has not only been in economic terms, but also in the maturity of a society that seeks a destiny of greatness as it may not have known since the times of its empires.


To conclude the news related to political issues in the region, a quick mention of the presidential elections that will take place in Venezuela on a date that will be announced in the next few days with the “strange formality” with which the current government is acting. Nothing that will change the existing reality, even impact the rest of the region, even though it would be celebrated with joy that the country which used to be one of the region’s great economies could regain the place it deserves.


Finally, Uruguay, the country I adopted by these times (nearly six years already),”the little country” as many Uruguayans charmingly call it, a society that has adapted to live between two giants (Brazil and Argentina) and that is sometimes considered as if it were an extension of those countries, especially Argentina.

Uruguay surpassed 4 million tourists in 2017, a record number that will definitely be surpassed by the values we will see in 2018.

The current summer season has marked the return of the Argentines to the country, those who never finished leaving, but today “invade” with passion a destination that they have made their own and dispute with a Brazilian market that, although important, is still far away in numbers from what “the neighbor on the other side of the river” provides.


To conclude, it is worth noting Ecuador’s return to the path of growth with a 9% increase in tourist arrivals in 2017, which seems to be the beginning of a new upward process after two years of decline.

On the political sphere, this past weekend society has strengthened the current government, supporting it with an affirmative vote in the call for popular consultation. It seems that this will open a new process in the country, already without the figure of former president Correa as a relevant actor. Markets have enthusiastically welcomed this result.

What to Expect in 2018 and beyond

In short, a clear growth of Chile, Colombia, Uruguay and Paraguay. A timid reaction from Argentina that “threatens” to return decisively to the path of growth. The long- awaited return of Brazil, who is beginning to prove that this will be the case. Peru, with a slower growth than usual but growing and predicting that the growth of 8.9% recorded in 2017 is only the beginning of a new cycle towards the double-digit rise in 2018. This will confirm the start of a new cycle that will extend into the years to come.

LATAM e-News – February 2018
Interview: Glen Champion

Glen Champion
Vice President, Bern Hotels & Resorts

1- As an established hotel executive, what is the evolution you observe in hospitality segments in Central America in the last years and what do you think are the trends for the next 5 years?
In the case of Panama, during the last 10 years we have seen an important growth in hotel products. However, the country is not growing enough in number of visitors, creating a market with an oversupply of hotel rooms.

The challenge is to improve promotion of the country in both the leisure and corporate segments. Traditionally Panama has not been very strong in the leisure segment and this is an area with great growth potential. We have noticed that the trend of tour series, cruises and singles is increasing but still have a lot of potential. A new convention center promises to be very attractive for generating more groups and convention businesses.

In general, we have a very positive look for the next five years. Let’s hope that with a continuous promotion of the country we can increase the number of visitors to cover the oversupply of product and see a very healthy market.

2- What do you think are the challenges in Panama for investors?
The challenge is access to funds as banks have become more risk-averse.

3- Panama, Honduras and Costa Rica are leading the regional ranking in tourism quality and sustainability. What are the actions that, in your opinion, BHR has been taking to contribute to this scenario?
At BHR we have been developing hotel infrastructure for the past 20 years by choosing strategic locations where we saw opportunities. We have also been developing our human team among the different companies to strengthen service and business management.

4- Are you planning to invest in hotels in other countries?
At the moment we are concentrating on the Panamanian market.

5- What are the mid-term goals for BHR, one of the biggest hotel groups in Panama?
The goals include increasing business in existing hotels, looking for new markets and strengthening others. In resorts there is enough potential to increase occupations both in high season and even more in low season.

We have a Marriot brand hotel under construction in the city that I think will be open in 2020.

6- How can you describe your participation at Costa Rica Sustainable Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference last November? In your opinion, what is the contribution of this type of conferences to the hospitality industry?
The conference in Costa Rica was rich in content and diversity of participants and I liked the interaction between the actors as well as my participation as a panelist.

I think the importance of this type of conference is that it helps to share knowledge and build relationships between the most important players in the industry.


Glen Champion is Vice President of Bern Hotels & Resorts (BHR) a major hotel, lodging and tourism company in Panama. The group currently has 10 hotels with over 2200 rooms available. The company designs, builds, owns and operates their properties including two Westins, two Crowne Plazas, an InterContinental, a Holiday Inn, a Le Meridien, a Marriott under construction, the independent Gamboa Rainforest Resort as well as Dreams Playa Bonita operated by AM Resorts.

In addition to hotels, BHR owns and operates a DMC and Tour operator, a Property Management Company and The Panama International Hotel School.

Born in Montreal, Canada, Mr. Champion has more than 35 years of experience having worked prior to Panama in Mexico for Conrad and Hyatt hotels as well as in his native Canada for Pan Pacific and Four Seasons hotels.

To contact Glen Champion:

To learn more about BHR visit:

LATAM e-News – February 2018
Who is Who: Abelardo (Piro) Hernández

Who is Who
Abelardo (Piro) Hernández
Director of Development, Latin America, Carlson Rezidor

Piro has more than 30 years of experience in the hotel and travel industry. Hernández has Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Hospitality Management at Florida International University. His is currently the Director of Development Latin America for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and its 6 brands, in charge of Colombia, Venezuela and Central America.

His functions include the negotiation and structuring of agreements to expand the presence of Radisson Hotels in the region leveraging his contacts with owners/developers and institutional investors to promote the expansion of the brands in the region. Prior to Carlson Rezidor Mr. Hernández served as Vice-President of Development for Radisson Hotels International 2012-2015.
He was also the Managing Director for Utell Hotels & Resorts at Pegasus Solutions for 6 years, serving independent hotels and hotel groups in the entire Americas.

Prior to this, he was the Regional Director for Latin America of the Preferred Hotel Group including the brands Summit Hotels and Sterling Hotels for 9 years representing the luxury brands of the group such as Summit Hotels, Preferred Boutique and Sterling Hotels among others, here he also served as Regional Marketing Manager for Latin America prior to his promotion to development.

Piro was also the Regional Sales & Marketing Manager for Naco Hotels in the Dominican Republic where he worked for 7 years. Hotelera Naco was a small hotel group with all-inclusive properties/timeshare properties and a corporate hotel. In addition to this, Piro has 14 years of experience in the Travel Agency Industry serving as tour operator and corporate travel agency in Miami. Piro was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

To contact Abelardo (Piro) Hernández:

To learn more about Carlson Rezidor visit:

LATAM e-News – January 2018
Arturo´s Letter

Arturo García Rosa
President & Founder, SAHIC

South America: a huge and varied “explosion” of tourists in 2017.

Although final numbers will be available, with some exceptions, during the next couple of weeks, some destinations have already anticipated 2017 forecast figures.

The first numbers confirm what was being observed throughout the year and even reveal some surprises that are more than welcome, predicting a great future for that destination and the region in general.

Historically and steadily, South America have shown basically three well-defined segments in terms of Inbound Tourism. Brazil and Argentina included in the first segment, always in that order except in 2011, when Argentina led the regional ranking. Chile, Peru, Uruguay and Colombia, in the second segment, generally in that order and then with marked changes in the last five years. Finally, a third segment is composed of Ecuador and Paraguay, historically in that order.

Bolivia and Venezuela are not considered in these segments due to different reasons, including the fact that it is difficult, if not impossible in the latter case, to access resources and/or sources to validate more or less certain information. However, if available, certainly the countries would be included in the third segment.

International tourist arrivals totaled 35.6 million in 2017 in the whole region, including the countries listed in the three segments, representing an 8.9% year-on-year growth. A little below Mexico, which received 37.7 million tourists, but on scale above the world average of 7% to reach the total of 1,322 million international travelers.

The great news has been that the historic leaders of South America have given up their places of privilege to two new players who have been booming in the last few years: Chile and Colombia.

As shown in the comparative table below, Chile received 6.5 million tourists while Colombia reached 6.3 million.

Brazil, with an almost flat performance in the last 10/15 years, with the exception of the climbing caused by sporting events such as the Football World Cup and the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, has fallen again to return to this almost flat state commented, reaching the arrival of 6.2 million tourists, which implies a fall of 6% compared to the previous year.

Argentina, emerging from a continuous decline caused by a combination of absurd measures of the previous government and the discredit in front of the international business community, returned to the path of growth but still far from the figures reached years ago and decidedly not in line with the country’s tourism potential. According to our estimates, the numbers would be in the order of 6 million arrivals, a 6.8% year-on-year growth.

Chile confirmed the growth of the last years and although there are certain fears regarding the sustainability of this growth due to the strong impact of the Argentine market on it (52% of total arrivals), there seems to be no clear signs that this would change from day to night, and that, on the contrary, there is enough time to turn this growth into a clear rise in the historical floor of this country.

Regarding Colombia, there is little doubt, if any, that this is a different phenomenon from that of Chile and, as such, it is anticipated a very interesting future for this destination within the global context of the tourism business.

It is to be expected that the two great powers of South America, Brazil and Argentina, will return to the path of growth where they used to be, especially in the case of the latter. This will be very beneficial to each of their destinations and, of course, to the region as a whole.

Next article will deal with what happened in the Caribbean and Central America this past year but we cannot fail to mention the impressive performance of Cuba, much more so after the advent of the new president of the United States and, above all, the adverse and/or restrictive measures implemented by him in the last months.

Contrary to what one might have imagined, Cuba reached 4.7 million tourists, a growth of 9.9% compared to the previous year. And what is strikingly significant is the growth of U. S. citizens who arrived on the island, a figure that totaled (not counting Cubans residing in the northern country), 619,523 visitors, representing a growth of 217% compared to the previous year.

“Cosas veredes que non crederes.” That’s Latin America. Very good!

2018 will be a great year and we will be there to contribute with our platform to business growth in the region.