Interview : Jorge Melero
With hotel investments expected to reach $1.1bn between 2017 and 2021, how can Peru develop its attractiveness as a MICE destination?
JORGE MELERO: The bulk of hotel investments in Lima will translate into more rooms for international business and leisure clients. For this segment, one can estimate 2800 new rooms between 2018 and 2022.
Peru can strengthen its position as a regional centre for the MICE segment given the fact that Jorge Chávez International Airport is an air hub for LATAM Airlines, and that the capital’s geographic location allows for reasonable flight distances and times for other major airports in the Americas.
Furthermore, Peru offers a thriving culinary scene, as well as pre- and post-stay options in cities such as Cusco. As long as infrastructure bottlenecks are solved, Lima and Arequipa can become very important players in the regional MICE segment.
What are the main drivers of growth for the hotel industry in the short to medium term?
MELERO: The three most important cities for the hotel industry in Peru are Lima, Cusco and Arequipa. Lima is the point of entry for most tourists, which is why it has 35-40% of Peru’s bed capacity. Growth of installed capacity will be driven by luxury formats, with an emphasis on location and experience.
Capitalising on its proximity to Machu Picchu and as the main tourism hub in the south of Peru, Cusco is acting as a pathway to other nearby tourist areas, such as the Sacred Valley, where there is already a considerable number of hotels. The growth in Cusco will depend on its ability to open hotels in these locations and develop sustainable and diversified tourism circuits towards the north and south of the city, which would extend the average length of stay for tourists in that region.
Arequipa is the second-most important city in Peru from an economic standpoint, and given its robust mining industry and highly diversified economy, it is steadily positioning itself as an attractive MICE destination in the region.
How can the hotel industry thrive in an increasingly competitive market?
MELERO: Considering the increasing number of foreign brands, being able to provide a unique experience is essential to success. Experience has to do with the senses, knowledge and the value of the services offered. Key is how that is delivered, how guests perceive the services and whether they recommend those experiences to others.
Compared to other South American countries, Peru has a larger percentage of upscale and luxury hotels, which makes it a more sophisticated destination than its neighbours.
Looking forward, the growth of this segment will be determined by its ability to further integrate Peru’s diverse tourism offerings, improve hotel circulation and prioritise tourist locations.
What are the main challenges faced by the hotel industry, and how can they be overcome?
MELERO: The main challenges for the industry are infrastructure bottlenecks. The airports in Lima and Cusco have reached maximum capacity and are in need of additional runways. The more airlines that can enter the market, the more connectivity and the less reliance on seasonality in tourism. Additionally, there is a need for quick access routes connecting areas with a high concentration of hotels, tourist destinations and airports.
Furthermore, road connectivity is important for the development of inter-regional and domestic tourism. It is also important to be rigorous when applying transit laws to attract a larger pool of tourists. If all these challenges are addressed, we will be able to reach the goal of 7.5m tourists by 2021.
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