Hospitality: «negotiations between companies and banks, until the end of the year, will be crucial»

Second part of the interview with Raúl Martins, president of the Hotel Association of Portugal

Despite the expected recovery of tourism in 2022, there are still many hotel companies in difficulties, some of which may even close…or not reopen. The point is that the Resume Program, launched by the Government to support companies after the end of the moratoriums, last September, is not having the intended success.

This is affirmed by Raúl Martins, president of the Hotel Association of Portugal (AHP), in an interview with Sul Informação, about the 32nd National Congress of Hotels and Tourism, organized by AHP in Albufeira, tomorrow and after, on 11 and 12 November.

"The situation of negotiations between hotel companies and banks, until the end of the year, will be crucial", he warned.

The Resume program is based on a guarantee that will be granted to companies for the refinancing of credit that is in default. The guarantees are provided by Banco Português de Fomento, with a credit limit of 25% under that regime.

But, according to the president of the AHP, "this support from Retomar, centered on the situation of moratoria, was poorly conceived".

“What the government was willing to support was not accepted by the banks”, because “the State comes to say to the banks the following: “we give a guarantee of 25% of the State, but it is within your guarantees”. That is, a bank has a mortgage guarantee of an asset, for a debt of 100, and the State says: “we give a guarantee of 25, but go get those 100 that the bank already has”. And the banks didn't accept that. Quite simply, the banks did not accept it!»

«The conditions that the Government placed in the Resume Program are not accepted and it is clear that the banks do not want to do this. For, if this is a guarantee of the State, the State should, by itself, support it. If the entity did not pay, the State would be responsible for a part of the guarantee, it had to support any non-compliance. No, it's taking the bread out of the banks' mouths».

In such a way that “the banks, at the moment, are negotiating on a case-by-case basis. I fear that there are some situations that do not have a happy ending, for which the banks will not find a solution”, added the national director of Portuguese hoteliers.

Raúl Martins adds that, "those who were unwell before 2019 will not do well in 2022." This will happen above all with "smaller hotels, with less financial capacity, which have been opened more recently, in 2019 and 2018, and which already had a large debt". The pandemic only aggravated their situation and the Resume Program, he argues, is not much help. For many of these hotels, it will be “the gateway to insolvency”.

All of this causes great concern in the sector and its representatives. That is why the National Hotel Congress “will have a panel dedicated to financial support solutions, which are not looking to the past so much, but looking more to the future” and to new financing paths.

The president of AHP recalls that "nowadays, hotels in Portugal are sought after by funds that want to invest." This is already happening, with "investment funds taking a position that, in some situations, the banks do not want to support".

If, before the pandemic, some hotels in the Algarve were already closed during the winter, the situation is now even more evident. «The Algarve is perhaps one of the places in the country where these temporary closures are more relevant, it will be around 20%». Until March, the doors of these units will remain closed.

But the president of AHP is optimistic and says he believes that «2022 will be a good and positive year». "Obviously we won't be at the level of 2019 yet, but it will be a good year." Therefore, he defends in his interview to Sul Informação, «we all have to prepare ourselves so that, in March, there is supply, because the demand is there».