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A Special International Report Prepared by The Washington Times Advertising Department - Published on March 24, 2000

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Advertisers

 Banco de Honduras, S.A. (Citibank)

 The Central Bank of Honduras

 Honduras Coffee Institute (IHCAFE)

 FIDE (Foundation for Investment and Development of Exports)

 Hotel Princess Honduras

 The Bay Islands

 Villanueva Industrial Park

 San Pedro Sula

 Lovable Group Honduras

 National Electric Energy Company (ENEE)

 Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (SERNA)

 Honduras

 Honduras Institute of Tourism

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A Special International Report Prepared by The Washington Times
Advertising Department
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Written by:
Wendy Sittner
Marketing Director:
Horacio Fiorda
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For more information, call
The Washington Times International Advertising Department
at (202) 636-3035
(202) 635-0103 fax
e-mail: natlad@wt.infi.net

Director, International Business Development
Carl Hagen
Production Supervisor:
Jill Koehler
Graphic Designer:
Ann Englehart
Website Design:
Earl Murton Associates, LLC

Copyright © 2000 News World Communications, Inc.

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San Pedro Sula becomes popular convention destination

The successful operations of national hotels in Honduras have attracted internationally acclaimed hotel chains to San Pedro Sula and the capital city of Tegucigalpa. Former Minister of Tourism Norman Garcia explained, “The promotion of investment here is local. And why do I say local when everyone thinks you should promote tourism with big chains like the Hyatt and the Sheraton? Because that’s not the case. Those hotels come after the national hotels invest…The Princess is a national investment, the Crown Plaza is a national investment…When foreign investors see that [national investments] are doing well, then they’ll put money in, too. But first, it’s obvious that the national operations have to show their confidence.”

Hotel Copantl opened in 1980 solely with Honduran capital. Maira Morillo, general manager of the hotel, estimated that in the last two years, the number of hotel rooms in San Pedro Sula has increased by 500, so the city now has about 800 first-class hotel rooms.

According to Jose Marti, general manager of the Camino Real Inter-continental Hotel, there were only two hotels in San Pedro Sula; now two years later, there are more than 30 hotels.

San Pedro Sula is an attractive city as a convention destination. Morillo describes San Pedro Sula as “a very organized city, very linear and flat, very well-planned out on the level of transportation, let’s say from one hotel to another. It’s a city with a lot of natural attractiveness. We’re in the middle of a valley with a mountain range to the north, which gives it a natural beauty that is fairly uncommon in industrial cities like San Pedro Sula.”

According to Morillo, “San Pedro Sula is a vacation spot for many Hondurans, because here they can visit many interesting sites in just one week.”

San Pedro Sula is near many of Honduras’ most popular tourism sites. The tropical beaches in the towns of Omoa, Puerto Cortes, and Tela are only a half-hour drive from the city. The world-renowned Mayan ruins of Copan are about a two-hour drive, and one can also travel to the Bay Islands within two hours. In addition, various national parks are within comfortable driving distance of San Pedro Sula.

Within the city limits, San Pedro Sula offers plenty of entertainment and convenience for convention goers and accompanying family members. The city is host to a variety of museums, shops, cafes, and bars. While fast-food restaurants are always easy to find, other types of restaurants are also plentiful and offer typical local cuisine as well as international food options.

Mayor of San Pedro Sula, Roberto Larios Silva points out, “San Pedro Sula is the second main city in Central America. Honduras has the priviledge of having two important cities. Tegucigalpa is the political capital and San Pedro Sula is where the economic development of the country is concentrated via the city’s industrial, commercial and financial development.”

Morillo considers San Pedro Sula a safe city, and points out that she has lived in cities all over the world, including New York, Rome, Paris and Madrid. She mentions that she has been robbed, but never in Honduras.

Marti, who has worked in Spain, El Salvador, Mexico and Costa Rica, agrees that San Pedro Sula is a safe city.

“Sure, there’s danger… but if I could see that it was too dangerous, I would not have come to live here [from Spain] with my wife and two children…If San Pedro Sula were to become dangerous, I’d leave.”

Copantl’s Morillo says the greatest growth in business-related tourism in San Pedro Sula over recent years has been because of the maquila (apparel manufacturing) industry. She estimates that 80 percent of Copantl’s guests are visiting for business reasons.

“They usually arrive on Monday or Tuesday and leave on Friday, so they spend almost the whole week here on business, organizing, buying and selling materials, etc.”

Marti also emphasizes the importance of the maquila industry to his business. He points out that one reason for the recent increase in San Pedro Sula’s hotel space is the expected boom in the maquila industry once the enhancement of the Caribbean Basin Initiative passes.

Marti explains, “For a long time, we’ve been waiting for the signing of the Caribbean Basin treaty that is fundamental to Honduras, because of the fiscal incentives that will help people in the maquila business. The foreign companies [with factories in Honduras] are going to do very well. That will demand accommodations for all those executives, and before, there weren’t enough rooms in San Pedro Sula.”

Hotel Princess, Holiday Inn and Inter-continental are some of the new large hotels that have moved to Honduras within the past two years.

Hotel Princess, for example, is a hotel chain that was born in Guatemala from a group of Central American investors. Links of the Princess chain are scattered throughout Central America and will eventually cover all of Latin America. Hotel Princess, operated by Imperial Hotels and Resorts, caters to upper-class quality and service that aims to meet all cultural standards.

Hotel Princess of Tegucigalpa recently welcomed the distinguished and Honorable Jose Maria Aznar, President of Spain, as its guest.

Patrick Perichon, general manager of Holiday Inn, said his hotel has tightened its standards to remain competitive with other top hotels in San Pedro Sula. He said Holiday Inn now offers as much or more than its competition.

“Two phones in each room, plus one phone in the bathroom, direct Internet access, an iron and ironing board, everything a business person could want is in each room.”

As for convention facilities, Morillo points out, “All of the new hotels have conference rooms, so all of us together can tend to 5,000 people.

There is a social center also, the Honduran Arabian Center that facilitates meetings with more than 3,000 people in one conference room alone, for medium-sized groups. In the international market, that’s actually considered small to medium.”

Marti agrees that while nearly 1,000 first-class hotel beds in San Pedro Sula is a small number considering the millions of people that attend a single convention in Washington, D.C. or New York, it is sufficient for the medium-sized conventions that come to San Pedro Sula.

In relation to the expected success of the convention business in San Pedro Sula, Holiday Inn’s Perichon said, “The math is easy. Looking just at Central America, if you calculate that there are between associations, companies and other groups more than 2,000, if we reach one-fifth of those groups (because there are five countries in Central America and let’s say that every year each group holds a convention in one of the five countries), then, we’re left with 400 possible conventions in San Pedro Sula. Of those 400, say we only get 10 percent of them. That’s 40 conventions in a year. If we’re talking about 40 weeks of conventions in a year, we’re taking about 40 weeks that the hotels are full.”

The hotels are prepared for such business because they are equipped with all the necessary amenities. Many offer computers, printers, Internet access, video conferencing rooms, and audiovisual equipment. Other modern technology is available including wireless microphones, automatic translation, laser pointers, desktop multimedia projectors and lighting equipment. Secretarial assistance can be provided for transcribing data, sending faxes, making photocopies and binding papers, among other tasks.

Some hotels, such as Hotel Copantl and Hotel Princess, even have a conference and convention team available for the actual organization and arrangement of events.

Both Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula are easily accessible cities with an international airport. All large hotels are located less than a 30-minute taxi ride from the airport. Four international airports are located throughout the country with daily flights to and from the United States, Europe, and South America.

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Table of Contents

Flores promotes unity and transparency to facilitate Honduran development

International Group gives positive report of reconstruction progress

Public banking institutions satisfied with macroeconomic stability of nation

CBI enhancement determines future of Honduran maquila industry

Honduras participates in study with Harvard University

Bank of Honduras-Citibank shares wealth and spreads smiles

CABEI committed to the fight against poverty in Central America

Why invest in Honduras?

Incentives offered by Honduras

FIDE motivates visitors to come and investors to stay

Laws applicable to exporters

HONDUTEL increases potential for economic progress

Country’s infrastructure currently under reconstruction

Useful Contacts

Honduras boasts top-ranked seaport in Central America

Infrastructure rehabilitation facilitates national economic development

San Pedro Sula becomes popular convention destination

Humanitarian first lady born in United States

National holiday honors women

Prominent positions held by Honduran women

Experienced U.S. investor reveals pros and cons to investment in Honduras

Honduran energy sector generates change

HAMCHAM lets U.S. know that Honduras is a land of opportunities

PMAIB protects island ecosystem and improves quality of life for islanders

Agriculture sector recovered, now diversifies

Just mud, or is it art?

Hopes are high for an educational model that meets contemporary demands

Nature lovers and adventure seekers keep busy on Honduran vacations

Copan ruins reveal more than skill and talent of ancient Maya civilization

Honduran citizens have culturally diverse histories

Facts and Figures