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The SAHIC hotel and tourism conference returns after two years and will be held next week at the Westin Playa Bonita in Panama. (Photo: Marriott)
David Vélez, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Nubank and Paula Santilli, Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo Latin America. (Latinvex collage)
Guilherme Leal, Founder and Co-Chair, Natura and Sueli Bonaparte, Founding President and Chairman of the Board at the Brazil-Florida Business Council BFBC. (Latinvex collage)
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Trade Talk

SAHIC Hotel Investor Conference Returns

Wilson Center, Brazil government honor David Velez, Pepsi's Santilli and Sueli Bonaparte.


Just as the COVID pandemic gradually eases in Latin America, the annual SAHIC hotel and tourism event returns after a two-year break.

This year the event will be held at the Westin Playa Bonita in Panama (March 14-15), marking a return of physical events. The last SAHIC event was a virtual event in 2020.

Previous SAHIC events have been held throughout Latin America.

“We know much of the content that will be shared and discussed along the meeting will shape what we will see happening in the region in the near future,” Arturo Garcia Rosa, President & Founder of SAHIC, told HNN Newswire. “This is a B2B encounter with unique networking momentums and, also, in an unrepeated mix of information, presented and discussed by all of the participants that have a voice in this type of conference.” 

This year’s speakers include Thomas Dubaere, the CEO of South America for French hotel giant Accor; David Tarr, Senior Vice President Development for the Americas at Hyatt Hotels Corporation; Jorge Apaez, COO Mexico, Latin America and The Caribbean, IHG; Cristiano Gonçalvez, Regional Vice President Central America, Andean Region & Southern Cone-IHG; Bojan Kumer, Regional Vice President, Hotel Development, Caribbean and South America, Marriott International; Louis Alicea, Senior Director Development, Latin America & Caribbean, Wyndham.

Also speaking will be Panama’s Tourism Minister Ivan Eskildsen, Ecuador’s Tourism Minister Niels Olsen and Panamanian business mogul Herman Bern, President & Founder of Empresas Bern, which includes real estate projects and a group of 10 hotels, including InterContinental Miramar, Crowne Plaza Panamá, The Westin Panamá, Le Méridien, Holiday Inn Ciudad del Saber, Gamboa Rainforest Reserve and The Westin Playa Bonita, where this year’s SAHIC event will be held. Bern also founded the Panama International Hotel School. 


At a dinner Gala on March 8, 2022, in Miami, Florida, the Wilson Center and its Latin American Program and Brazil Institute presented its Award for Corporate Citizenship to David Velez, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Nubank; Guilherme Leal, Founder and Co-Chair, Natura; Paula Santilli, Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo Latin America and Dona Bertarelli, Philanthropist and Champion for Ocean Protection.

Clemencia Carabali, Founder, Asociacion de Mujeres Afrodescendientes del Norte del Cauca, was honored with the Wilson Award for Public Service.

Colombian native Velez was named CEO of the Year by Latinvex last year for his success in building up Nubank from scratch to a top Latin American bank and providing a strong alternative to many unbanked Latin Americans.


Sueli Bonaparte, the dynamo behind the Brazil-Florida Business Council (BFBC), has been awarded the Rio Branco commendation by the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations in recognition for her efforts to promote close relations between Brazil and the United States.

Bonaparte founded the BFBC in 2014 and it quickly gained widespread praise for high-profile Brazilian guests and scored strong feedback from attendees of its events. (See Led by Shining Star, Brazil Business Council Gains Traction).

Bonaparte received the award at a March 8, 2022 event in Miami presided by Ambassador João Mendes Pereira, the Brazilian Consul General in Miami and incoming ambassador to Belgium.

Parabéns, Sueli! 


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