Canadian hotel investment poised for record year, despite broad economic challenges

May 30, 2013, 13:18 ET from Big Picture Conferences Inc

TORONTO, May 30, 2013 /CNW/ - Canada's hotel investment industry is set for a record year as investors spend up to $2-billion to acquire properties, despite a sluggish global economy and high Canadian dollar that have conspired to reduce the number of foreign visitors to the country and dampened domestic travel.

About 450 delegates from across the country took part in the Canadian Hotel Investment Conference in downtown Toronto to gain exclusive insight into the trends that will affect investments in hotels in the coming year.

"Finally lenders are confident," said Bill Stone, executive vice-president of CBRE Hotels during the opening panel. "Happy lender, happy spender. With strong lender support, deals will continue at their current pace making 2013 one of the strongest years ever."

The industry saw transaction volumes fall along with the broader real estate market through the recession, but is fighting its way back despite broad economic uncertainty that has seen buyers and sellers disagree on reasonable valuations for properties.

Transaction volume in the first quarter of this year is ahead of the same time last year, CBRE says, and could crest $2-billion worth of deals "particularly if what hits the market over the next month gets completed by year end."

"Deals are getting done, although there are all kinds of heart pounding moments," Mr. Stone said.

CIBC World Markets chief economist Avery Shenfeld said the number of visitors to Canada has been steadily declining since peaking around 4 million a year in the 1990s, and they aren't likely to return in high numbers until the global economy regains its footing.

Some of the countries most important to Canadian tourism and business travel - including the United States, several prominent members of the European Union and China - are showing sign of recovery that should bolster the hotel industry in this country.

"The question of where we head from here will be answered not in Canada but in the rest of the world," Mr. Shenfeld told the capacity crowd as he forecast stronger growth both in Canada and abroad in 2014. "The Canadian economy is waiting for the world to change."

Mr. Stone and Mr. Shenfeld were joined on stage at the conference's opening panel by moderator Lyle Hall (managing director of HLT Advisory), Steve Giblin (chief executive officer of SilverBirch Hotels and Resorts) and Anthony Messina (chief executive officer of InnVest Real Estate Investment Trust) for a provocative look at how the industry could change in order to achieve stronger results.

Their suggestions touched on lowering property taxes and making it less expensive for travellers to visit the country. Other sessions at the day-long event examined supply and development in markets with fewer than 1 million residents, generating greater revenue at hotels, and the trials and tribulations of passive ownership.

Industry professionals have the opportunity to hear from their colleagues and other influential voices again on Oct. 23-24 in Vancouver at the Western Canadian Hotel and Resort Investment Conference.

SOURCE Big Picture Conferences Inc

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