Tourism January 22, 2024 | 3:09 pm

Banco Popular reinforces leadership in tourism with a busy agenda at FITUR 2024

Madrid.- Banco Popular Dominicano, the largest bank in the Dominican Republic, kicked off its week at the International Tourism Fair (FITUR) with a traditional meeting with journalists and media representatives. On the occasion, the bank’s top executives revealed important data reaffirming its tourism leadership.

Christopher Paniagua, the bank’s president and CEO, recalled that Banco Popular is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and that it has been working in favor of the tourism sector for more than 30 years. This evidences the leadership and impact of the financial institution since tourism emerged in the country.

He announced that the bank’s delegation has very good expectations for this 44th edition of FITUR, as its agenda includes more than 40 meetings. Every year, there is growing interest in this fair, where business deals are closed that are developed throughout the year.

The bank’s portfolio of placements to the tourism sector, as of December 2023, amounted to USD$1.35 billion, including loans granted by Popular Bank, a subsidiary of Grupo Popular with an international license. This consolidates the bank’s leadership as the historical main financier of the sector.

“Of the six decades of institutional life of Banco Popular, for over 30 years, our organization has been linked to the promotion of the tourism sector. Three decades ago, we knew that this would be a fundamental pillar for the sustainable growth of the nation, and since then we have led the financial support to the sector. How good that history has been giving us the reason since then, and today the Dominican Republic cannot be understood without tourism!”, Paniagua told journalists.

According to data from the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic, Banco Popular’s market share in hotel loans was 38.2% as of December 2023. This percentage only considers hotel loans, but not those destined for complementary tourism offerings or tourism infrastructure. It also does not include the financial contribution from Popular Bank, so the percentage would be significantly higher.

These are indicators that highlight the role of Banco Popular in supporting tourism, which began more than three decades ago and was strengthened after the creation of the first business unit specialized in meeting the needs of hotel and tourism clients, distributed at multiple levels of the value chain.

Twelve percent of the institution’s portfolio corresponds to the tourism sector, with a delinquency rate of 0%. This translates into a great index to measure the confidence and profitability of national and foreign investors in this essential pillar of the economy.

Paniagua recognized that the media are part of the philosophy of Banco Popular, emphasized the institution’s 60 years, and how there is no better example of commitment to the nation than supporting the Dominican tourism sector, which in 2023 became a contribution of 17% to GDP.

This constant support is evident every year by promoting foreign direct investment in tourism and the corresponding contribution of foreign exchange. The bank has also facilitated the creation of more than 33,000 direct jobs in the tourism sector and the development of more than 26,500 hotel rooms.

A historic move underscores Banco Popular’s leadership in tourism – their recent incorporation as a regional member of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) marks them as the first Latin American bank to join this prestigious industry forum. This strategic decision opens doors to invaluable collaboration and positions them at the forefront of global travel and tourism.

A successful track record

The busy agenda of business and institutional meetings of Banco Popular at FITUR reaches 40 meetings. In them, projects that involve USD$1.3 billion in investment and some USD$780 million in financing will be evaluated, with an impact on 13,600 rooms and a contribution of 16,400 direct jobs and 40,000 indirect jobs.

According to René Grullón F., senior executive vice president of National and International Businesses, today the announcement of an alliance with the Official Credit Institute (ICO) will be made, to support Spanish direct investors. Up to USD$25 million will be available for this purpose.

Juan Manuel Martín de Oliva, vice president of the Tourism Businesses Area, advanced that at FITUR they will see financing for 13,600 new rooms for the country, and the rooms that previously had an average cost of USD$80,000 will now reach up to USD$400,000, a sign of the growth in the quality of the Dominican hotel offer.

Paniagua, Grullón F., and Martín de Oliva were accompanied by a team of high-ranking Banco Popular officials, demonstrating the bank’s commitment to collaboration and leadership in the tourism sector. These included: Antonia Antón de Hernández, senior executive vice president of Human Resources, Cultural Transformation, Credit Administration, and Compliance; José Mármol, executive vice president of Corporate Communications, Reputation, and Responsible Banking; Mariel Bera, vice president of the Corporate Relations and Responsible Banking Area; and José Hernández Caamaño, vice president of the Engineering Area.

The meeting also saw the participation of prominent figures from Grupo Popular: Eduardo J. Grullón, president of AFP Popular; Luis José Jiménez: Executive vice president of AFP Popular; and José Manuel Cuervo: Vice president of the Securities Market Subsidiaries Area of Grupo Popular.


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