European investors eye Ecuador for hotel development

Wyndham Guayaquil, Ecuador (Ecuador's government aims to improve the country's economy and infrastructure through European hotel and tourism investment.)

European operators are eyeing Ecuador's tourism potential as they consider investing up to $850 million in Ecuador's hotel infrastructure. 

Enrique Ponce, Ecuador's tourism minister, told BN Americas that Germany-based Deutsch Spanische Handelsgesellschaft may invest $500 million, while Spain's Globalía could invest $350 million. Meanwhile, Spain-based hotel group BlueBay is also interested in developing hotel properties in Ecuador. 

President Lenín Moreno has distanced himself from previous president Rafael Correa as he seeks private investment and trade agreements to renew Ecuador's stalled economy. The country's goal is to attract more airlines, routes and flight frequencies in order to attract more visitors. "We're going to secure this enormous possibility for investments," Ponce told state news agency Andes. "We will be a country of open skies, and we'll do everything possible to improve flight connections." 

As the ministry of tourism works on increasing tourist numbers, Moreno has met with representatives of the country's construction industry to discuss proposals for renewing the $100-billion economy. "This environment of openness and dialogue which prevails today enables us to have a lot of confidence that there will be a future of prosperity and success for productive activities, especially for us," Enrique Pita, the head of the Ecuadoran construction chamber, said, according to the presidential website.

Tackling the aftermath of recent natural disasters 

However, Moreno has to tackle the rebuilding of Ecuador's northern coastal regions in the aftermath of a 7.8-earthquake in April 2016, which killed 673 people, left 30,000 homeless and caused $3.4-billion worth of damage. This year, the El Niño phenomenon has caused even more damage with floods and landslides, leaving 26 people dead, damaging 30,000 homes and wiping out thousands of hectares of farmland. 

Following last year's major commodity price plunges, Ecuador struggled to meet its goals. Its economy, which relies on crude oil for half of its national budget, contracted 2 percent in 2016, according to Fitch Ratings. In June, Standard & Poor's Financial Services downgraded Ecuador's sovereign bond rating to B- from B due to the government's rising debt and lack of monetary flexibility. 

Infrastructure improvement is in the works

Ecuador's transport and public works ministry has planned to upgrade a series of roads in Los Ríos province, Paúl Granda, transport minister, said in a statement. The ministry will pave the 22.6-mile Caluma-Puebloviego, the 13-mile Baba-San Antonio and the 10.6-mile Ventanas-Echeandía roads in the central coastal province. 

In order to fund a potable water plant, Guayas province's Durán municipality will seek a loan from Banco del Estado, mayor Alexandra Arce told BN Americas. Durán is on the heels of completing a project to build several reservoirs that will be filled starting on Sept. 15. Meanwhile, the municipality will install additional water meters, local water company Emapad reported.