In the area of foreign tourist investment in Portugal, Kleya offers a service that includes everything from commercial and strategic advice to negotiation. "This is essential for someone who wants to enter the market in Portugal", defends Vasco Rosa. “We identify the best opportunities and then help to realize them. For example, a foreign group wants to expand internationally and thinks of Portugal as one of its destinations. You can come to us, we interpret what it brings in terms of offers and, if we consider that it is an offer that can succeed here, we go after opportunities or we can create them, as we are doing in Vila Nova de Gaia. This may mean negotiating with national companies that have assets that we consider interesting and we have developed a concept that allows foreign investors to enter. Then, even when an investor is already installed, we continue to provide support ”, explains the official, setting an example. “The foreign operator is opening a new hotel in Porto and wants to have a restaurant; we evaluate which are the Portuguese groups that can “marry” into this group. We also provide the framework for the investor within the lines and incentives for investment, job creation, rehabilitation, etc. ”.
Kleya is advising a hotel project for a Spanish chain that will debut in May this year in Portugal. With a total of 70 rooms, the Spanish group Chic & Basic, with hotels in Barcelona and Amsterdam, will open its first unit in Porto. The four-star Chic & Basic Porto, which is located on the street opposite to Teatro Carlos Alberto, results from a 20-year lease signed between the Spanish brand and a local investor. “This hotel has a very trendy and interesting position, which makes a difference compared to the current offer. The Chic & Basic brand was interested in Porto or Lisbon, and in Porto it was possible to create the ideal context to move forward first. Given the brand positioning, a very central asset was needed and in Lisbon it is more difficult to find, at this moment, an asset with the characteristics for this project. But Lisbon is not excluded. This investment will not exceed 15 million euros, with the rehabilitation, construction and engineering carried out by a Portuguese company ”, says Vasco Rosa.
Alongside this project, Kleya is developing another hotel for Lisbon, for “the new area of Praça de Espanha”, specifically. “It is a unit with a concept linked to music. We are in the project approval phase and it will be a differentiated offer compared to what exists. Once again with a local investor, who happens to also have affinities with the world of music in Portugal, and a group that has South American and Spanish capitals. In this case, there are 90 rooms and an investment of 20 million euros. ”
In Gaia, they are also developing a concept with a Portuguese group, which will have a hotel and real estate component “This project I believe will be an opportunity to requalify the river front in Gaia. It will be more than a hotel project ”, says only the person in charge.
"The interest and willingness of international investors in the field of tourism in Portugal is growing," says the CEO of Kleya, arguing that all indicators point to this. “The international situation remains unstable in many geographies; this ends up benefiting Portugal. Also, the fact that we left the troika procedure today creates security for foreign investment funds, which previously did not look at Portugal, to start looking very closely. Our ‘rating’ is again at acceptable levels. This also facilitates the search for Portugal ”, he considers. For the responsible, the difficulty "is in finding the opportunities".
Despite this, he considers that in the cities there are still areas available for rehabilitation. “The Intendente area five years ago was an area that no one would think of as a 'trendy' place, today it is completely different. Other areas of the city provide this as well: the Beato area, Marvila ”. Regardless of the opportunities, it is also necessary to assess the investor's risk profile: “It is much safer for the international investor to look at a hotel already in operation, but there are other investors who have this risk profile and are available. This is also our role: to find strong local partners in the construction area, and others, in order to facilitate the entry of a new player in Portugal ”.
Despite considering that there are still opportunities to invest in the country's two main cities, Vasco Rosa reveals his intention to invest in the interior of the country. “Portugal has excellent infrastructure networks, both for communications, roads and internet, and it is easy to reach international airports. Therefore, places like Évora, Coimbra, Aveiro and the North, offer conditions for the development of new projects and we are already working with some international 'players' in this sense, not least because there are incentives for the development of these areas, and they can also leverage this process. I hope in 2020 to complete the first hotel project in Évora ”.
Opportunities and threats
Comfort, security, political stability, combined with the personality of the Portuguese are the characteristics that make Portugal an attractive destination to live or invest in. “I am sorry that many people left during the troika phase. One of the biggest risks that I see is the lack of qualified labour in support the growth of the economy, and this is a problem that can get worse as the economy grows ”, he warns. However, there are still some constraints, which despite being identified, still persist.
“Despite significant progress, there is still room to improve administrative simplification and transparency for an international investor. I give as an example the legislation for local accommodation. It does not make sense for a hostel, which is a tourist resort, to be under these rules. There is a path to be taken at the legislative level, not least because the tourism industry has innovative business models to appear and it is necessary to adapt the legislation. It is also necessary to ensure transparency and efficiency in the processes. We cannot continue to hear that a licensing project takes months to process. This links with human resources, in the public administration there are also not enough people to respond ”, he defends.
As for customers, Vasco Rosa defines the profile of Kleya's customers: “We are a young company, which is characterized by its capacity for innovation, so we are looking for operators with this type of profile. In other words, our customers are not already established operators. We are looking for medium-sized investors, with an international profile, present in more than one country, and who have a differentiated offer in terms of 'lifestyle'.
Created in 2015, Kleya currently has a multidisciplinary team of 10 employees. “I believe that one of the strengths of our company was the creation of a very diverse team with very different skills, from marketing to architecture, from hotels to financial management”, concludes Vasco Rosa da Silva.