CaixaBank Wants to Grow Its Tourism Business by 20%

11 December 2017 – Expansión

CaixaBank is stepping down on the accelerator in the tourism sector. The bank chaired by Jordi Gual has launched CaixaBank Hotels & Tourism, a specialist business line that is seeking to increase both the number of clients and the financing granted to the tourism sector, which has a global impact of 16% on Spain’s GDP. According to the entity, two out of every three hotels are already clients of CaixaBank, which has a market share of 63%.

The objective that the team of 30 professionals in the Hotels & Tourism team has set itself is to increase turnover by 20% during the first year of activity, accelerating both the number of new clients and the loan book.

CaixaBank Hotels & Tourism started to take shape in 2008 when a specialist team was established in the Balearic Islands. Now, that division has its own brand and a portfolio of more than 14,000 clients, from which it generates a turnover of €5 billion.

In 2016, the bank led by Gonzalo Gortázar granted loans worth €1.3 billion to the tourism sector. It plans to multiply that figure over the coming years with the launch of this specialist unit.

According to the Director-General of CaixaBank’s business, Juan Antonio Alcaraz, the challenge is to promote the modernisation of the existing hotel stock and to facilitate financing to business-people in the sector to enable them to buy hotel assets and undertake new build projects.

CaixaBank is not the only entity to launch a specific division for this sector. In 2014, Banco Sabadell launched Sabadell Negocio Turístico, a unit that has allowed it to increase its net investment balance at an annual rate of more than 10%.

According to Alcaraz, the 30 specialists working for CaixaBank’s new line of business, are located in those areas of the country that have the most tourist weighting to ensure proximity to clients and the provision of a personalised service. “We want to help businessmen in the sector maintain their position of global leadership”, said the executive, who emphasised that tourism “is one of the most strategic and important areas of the Spanish economy”.

According to CaixaBank’s research service, the direct and indirect contribution from tourism to GDP amounts to €119 billion, equivalent to 11.1% of the total. Nevertheless, if we add the spending that all of the players involved in the tourism sector make in other economic sectors, then the global impact reaches 16% of GDP, well above the European average, of 9.6%. More than 2.5 million people are employed in the sector.

Specialisation

CaixaBank Hotel & Tourism forms part of the bank’s corporate banking area, which has opted to launch several specialist lines of business to cater for economic sectors. For example, the entity has units dedicated to the real estate sector – fourteen centres – and the agrarian sector, with more than 900 AgroBank branches. It also has fourteen large business centres – one in each territory – business centres dedicated to dealing with businesses, self-employed people and professionals, and 106 company branches for other firms. It has also just launched CaixaBank Day One to deal with the specific needs of startups.

Spain is just a step away from overtaking France as the most popular destination in the world for tourist visits. Provided that the Catalan political situation does not intervene, forecasts suggest that this year could close with more than 84 million tourist visits.

Original story: Expansión (by S. Saborit)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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