< PrevNext > Per Diems in the Americas Settle Down By Chris Davis / March 27, 2018 / Contact Reporter Share Despite another year of political turbulence in sections of Central and South America and natural disaster in the Caribbean, 2017 demand and per diems in most Latin American cities in the Corporate Travel Index were reasonably steady compared with 2016. Costs for business travel to Canada, meanwhile, increased notably, fueled by economic growth and global travel demand.However, the most expensive non-U.S. city in the Americas for 2017 daily business travel wasn’t in Canada or South America. That distinction belongs to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where the nightly cost of an upscale property, three meals and a taxi from the airport to the city center totaled $297.89. Using just hotel and food costs for a consistent comparison, San Juan’s per diem increased almost 5 percent year over year.Hurricane Maria, the powerful storm that inundated Puerto Rico in September, killed dozens and wrecked infrastructure islandwide. While San Juan proper suffered less devastation than other parts of Puerto Rico, increased occupancy owing to citizens with destroyed homes and emergency workers looking to restore power and rebuild the island likely will drive San Juan’s hotel rates up in 2018. Latin AmericaThe combined average daily expenditure on hotel and food increased year over year by a few percentage points in several Latin America CTI cities, including Lima, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Guayaquil and Guatemala City. That aligns with travel management consultancy Advito’s contention in its 2018 Industry Forecast that “hotel bookings are slowly returning” to many locations in the region. Both Advito and the CTI excludes Caracas, Venezuela, as continued political and economic instability has limited business travel there.Looking forward, Advito noted that Brazilian hotel development may outpace demand growth: “Supply is increasing as hotel developments commissioned during the boom years at the beginning of the decade finally open. The increase in rooms is dampening price [increases], mainly in Brazil,” according to Advito. “There is more supply due in Brazil, especially in Sao Paulo.” Lodging research firm STR, meanwhile, predicts that Sao Paulo hotel rates will rise both this year and next.Hotel costs in Costa Rica’s San Jose remained steady from 2016 to 2017, but a hotel survey by the Costa Rican Hotels Chamber noted a drop in tourists from the U.S. that may drive the lower occupancy, according to The Costa Rica Star.CanadaIt’s a much different story north of the U.S. Combined hotel and food costs increased at least 4 percent year over year in four of the five Canadian CTI cities. Calgary was the exception, as per diems increased a bit less than 2 percent.STR noted that hotel occupancy, average daily rate and revenue per available room in Canada all increased year over year in 2017, helped by limited supply growth and strong demand. Advito noted strong economic growth in the country and increased demand for travel throughout the world, noting the rapid global expansion of Air Canada’s network. Air Canada, in fact, added 30 routes and increased capacity by 11.6 percent from 2016 to 2017. Advito, though suggested that “Air Canada itself faces increased international competition from WestJet” that will help “limit domestic fare increases in 2018 to 1 percent.”As for hotels in Canada, “a steady increase in openings will limit the pace of [hotel] rate increase to 2 percent to 4 percent in 2018,” according to Advito. Combined hotel and food costs increased at least 4 percent year over year in four of the five Canadian cities on the Corporate Travel Index. According to STR, hotel occupancy, average daily rate and revenue per available room all increased in 2017.