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Roland de Bonadona, Ceo Accor Hospitality Latin America

Priority will be given to the development of our economy brands in the above mentioned countries and partnerships to complete our midscale and upscale networks in the main regional capital cities. All countries are going to suffer, but the more opened and more depending on commodity prices like Chile, Ecuador, Venezuela or Argentina are a lot more exposed than Brazil or Peru.

United States and Europe are suffering from the economic crisis. But hotel results in Latin America seem to be less affected than in other parts of the world. How do you explain this fact?

We have really focused Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia. We have plans today for these same countries plus Chile, Peru and Venezuela in line with Accor worldwide strategy in terms of segmentation and investment. Priority will be given to the development of our economy brands in the above mentioned countries and partnerships to complete our midscale and upscale networks in the main regional capital cities. We already cover 76 cities in the region and after the opening of the hotels in our pipeline, we’ll cover 115 cities. All the most important capital and economic centers will be covered, most of second tier cities in the main countries and third tier cities in Brazil through franchise agreements for Ibis. Brazil is an exception in South America due to its size, but we are working on economy network developments in the main other countries of the region.South America, and specially Brazil, main economy in the region, have been affected later and for the moment less intensely than North America or Europe. MacroEconomic situation can explain that, with stronger growth trends, banking institutions less leveraged and toxic papers proof due to stronger regulations. Of course economy market segment is resisting the best with net growth in REVPAR compared with 08 same period. Even so, first months of 2009 show that the region isn’t crisis proof and we expect very small or no growth of REVPAR in 2009.What are you expecting for the years to come?Negative GDP growth in 2009 is going to cause losses of REVPAR on midscale and upscale market, and slower growth close to 0 for economy segment. All countries are going to suffer, but the more opened and more depending on commodity prices like Chile, Ecuador, Venezuela or Argentina are a lot more exposed than Brazil or Peru.The leaders of the industry are turning their eyes to Latin America. Do you think that the continent could be the new paradise for hotel developers now that China or Dubai are beginning to suffer from overcapacity? Most countries in Latin America have transformed themselves in the last decade from inefficient unstable economies to potentially interesting markets, with controlled inflation, relatively stabilized exchange rates, important reserves in foreign currency, somehow lower interest rates, and much more visibility. Even so we are talking about a much smaller market than Asia or even Middle East. In terms of GDP, South America as a whole is only worth one big European country like Germany, but has a lot more challenge to face in terms of lack of infrastructures or reduction of poverty to mention just these ones. Talking about leisure, all the south part of the region is far from major outbound market in Europe or North America and can only count on their domestic markets and small neighbouring countries. So we are talking about a limited, narrow market place, and I strongly believe that Asian or Middle East type hotel development waves would result in high overcapacity like the one experienced in Brazil in the early 2000’s.Accor brands are very well represented in South America but less in Central America and Caribbean. Are you suffering from the competition with American groups? What are your objectives there?We have really focused Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia. We have plans today for these same countries plus Chile, Peru and Venezuela in line with Accor worldwide strategy in terms of segmentation and investment. Priority will be given to the development of our economy brands in the above mentioned countries and partnerships to complete our midscale and upscale networks in the main regional capital cities. We already cover 76 cities in the region and after the opening of the hotels in our pipeline, we’ll cover 115 cities. All the most important capital and economic centers will be covered, most of second tier cities in the main countries and third tier cities in Brazil through franchise agreements for Ibis. Brazil is an exception in South America due to its size, but we are working on economy network developments in the main other countries of the region.

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