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Tourism in Panama (and Central America) - Activity Levels, Promotion / Marketing, Growth Rates, etc.

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Environmental study for  Panama city beaches to boost tourism


Panama City beach, a peak into the future

Posted 20/11/2019

An  environmental impact study (EIA, for the Panama Bay beaches recovery project which is intended to dramatically change the  sea frontage of Bella Vista  and Calidonia and boost city  tourism  by 2022  will be handled  by the Louis Berger Lac S. company

The Mayor's Office of Panama, chaired by José Luis Fábrega, on November 14  awarded a contract for the best value tender of $120,376. The reference price was $133,750

The other company that presented, Corporación de Desarrollo Ambiental, SA (Codesa), had offered $132,758.27.

Louis Berger obtained 85 points from the evaluation committee. Meanwhile, Codesa earned 74.27 points. 

Being a category 3 EIA, public consultation is required.

Fábrega has said that the project aims to recover the beaches of Calidonia and Bella Vista as an attraction for local and foreign tourism.

The project will have an extension of 1.8 kilometers and an investment of $120 million. According to the mayor, he is expected to be ready in 2022.



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Panama: Tourism to Grow 10% by 2020

The Panamanian government's optimistic projections are based on the publicity that finally began this year at the international level, with the injection of $20 million into the Tourism Promotion Fund.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The campaign to promote Panama as a tourist destination in the main international markets began in November of this year and will be active for eight months.

The business tourism sector expects in the coming year to begin to see an upturn in activity, which has been depressed for the last 4 years. According to estimates by the Tourism Authority, in 2020 a similar flow of tourists could arrive to the country as in 2018, when 2.4 million tourists were registered.

Prensa.com review that "... Among the agreements that are already being implemented or will come into effect in the coming weeks, is the agreement that the Fund signed with the German operator TUI, which will be valid for 2 years. The Fund will allocate $50,000 each year in combined promotion with the European operator and it is estimated that this relationship will translate into more than a thousand tourists arriving in Panama next year."

Liriola Pittí, Executive Director of the International Promotion Fund, explained to Prensa.com that "... Agreements have also been reached to bring charter flights from Colombia, Ecuador, Canada and Costa Rica". She added that "... The number of tourists that would arrive in the country, as a result of these charter flights, was calculated at 85% occupancy in the aircraft, so the final numbers could be higher."


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Panama: Tourist Arrivals Begin to Fall in 2020

During the first month of the year, 215,607 visitors arrived to the country, a figure that is 18% less than the one reported for the same period in 2019.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The General Comptroller of the Republic reported that between January 2019 and the same month of 2020 48,696 tourists arrived to the country less, from 264,303 to 215,607 visitors. The report states that in the case of cruise ship passengers, the number increased by 130%, from 10,822 to 24,868.

You may be interested in "Tourism and Travel: Consumer Interests and Preferences"

Reviewing the entry of tourists, according to the port of entry, the report states that 154,140 tourists entered through the Tocumen International Airport and in Paso Canoas the figure rose to 17,009.

In the case of the ports of Balboa and Cristobal the number of visitors who entered during January was 505, and in the other ports the figure rose to 19,085.



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Panama reactivates tourism and conservation initiative


Posted 28/09/2020

A decree to reactivate the Tourism, Conservation, and Research (TCI) strategy was signed in Mi Pueblito by President Laurentino Cortizo on Monday, September 28.

The proposal made for Panama more than 20 years ago by the specialist in social ecology  Dr. Hana Ayala, inspired by the natural, environmental and cultural potential of the country.

She returned to Panamas  in February 2020, to meet with local tourism leaders President Cortizo, who supported the reactivation of the TCI

a strategy, which was praised by groups like the Smithsonian Institute, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the World Bank, when it was first implemented by Panama.

The new decree creates the TCI Alliance, Committee made up of public entities, with the participation of the research, conservation, and tourism sectors.

The Committee is made up of the Ministries of the Environment (MiAmbiente) and Culture (MiCultura).the National Secretariat of Science, Technology, and Innovation (Senacyt) and the Tourism Authority of Panama.

The Committee will develop, promote and support the execution of a national plan for the development of sustainable heritage tourism in the country,

As general coordinator of the Committee, the ATP will form a group of Affiliates to the TCI Alliance, which will be joined by companies, non-profit organizations and other public or private entities, for their contribution to conservation and research projects of natural heritage and culture of Panama, linked to tourism.



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68% of tourism activities face year-long crawl back


Posted 11/10/2020

Some  68% of tourist activities will not be able to operate at capacity for about a year due to the pandemic,  warns the Panama Chamber of Commerce (CCIAP) as Panama trails other countries in developing strategies.

After almost seven months of inactivity due to the restrictions applied by the government to prevent the spread of Covid-19, tourist activities in the country will reopen on  Monday, October 12.

“For this, first of all, Panama must present itself to travelers as a destination with clear, well-established biosafety protocols that are implemented and respected, avoiding improvisations, “says the CCIAP highlights in its weekly message.

The business union asks to activate the engines of the sector since it has the ability to promote other productive activities in the country, such as transport, commerce, agriculture, crafts and restaurants, to name a few.

It also recommended to urgently resume the international promotion campaign in order to position the destination in the markets identified in the studies carried out by the Panama Tourism Authority and the Tourism Promotion Fund.

“Other destinations are already ahead of Panama; the pandemic did not stop them in the task of planning to promote their attractions, no matter how challenging the panorama may be, ”warns the Chamber

Within the reactivation of tourism it is crucial to value and capitalize on new assets, such as the Amador Convention Center and the Amador Cruise Terminal, whose strategies must be redefined.

The CCIAP says   there is a long road ahead for tourism, and a government support plan is required for this sector, “if we take into account according to applied surveys, 68% of tourism activities will not be able to operate at capacity for a year or more ”.

The Chamber says that the reactivation of the tourism sector represents a great challenge with great opportunities for economic recovery.

As a reference, the business union recalled that in 2019, tourism-related activities represented 14% of GDP; that is, $8.5 billion  and employed about 240,000 people.



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Reapertura turística será gradual; empresas cuestionan restricciones

Roberto González Jiménez
12 oct 2020 - 12:00 AM


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Panama tourism on verge of collapse


Posted 23/01/2021

Panamanian tourism is on the edge of an abyss from which it would take about 15 years to emerge, according to industry projections.

The restriction of mobility, curfew, sanitary fences and a ban on going to the beaches can cause the closure of at least 50% of the 3,500 companies that participate directly in tourism, an activity that in 2019 contributed more than $4.5 billion to the country's gross domestic product.

Ernesto Orillac, president of the Panama Chamber of Tourism (Camtur),  said that the current situation is unsustainable and called for the health authorities to sit at a table to establish  roadmap that allows the recovery of the sector.

35,-000 thousand contracts of workers who depend directly on tourism remain suspended

$800 Million is the accumulated debt of the companies that participate in tourism: hotels, receptive operators and travel agencies, among others.

"We had a meeting scheduled for yesterday Friday, but the Health Ministry canceled it at the last minute," Orillac said.

Panamanian tourism was reactivated on October 12, after 8 months of paralysis, but after the rebound in positive cases of coronavirus, health authorities decreed new measures that affect the sector at the beginning of the year.

The extension of the measures comes during the high season of tourism (January-March), months that contribute between 40% and 45% of the annual income of the sector, especially for companies that operate outside the capital city.

“We cannot continue with improvisations and last minute decisions. Tourism needs reliable information. How is it possible that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry says that tourists can pass the sanitary fences just by presenting their reservation when there is no decree that stipulates it? ", said Orillac.

For the tourist unions, the lack of decisions is taking its toll on the country. Aurillac points out that countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic are registering occupancy rates in their hotels of up to 70%, and not only by tourists on vacation but also events and congresses.

"These countries have the same contagion problems as Panama, and tourism companies are complying with the same protocols that Panamanian companies have already established," he said.

In addition to the lack of consensus in decision-making, the Panamanian Association of Hotels (Apatel) is concerned about the government's decision to reduce funds for international tourism promotion.

Annually, the Tourism Authority of Panama must transfer $20 million to the International Promotion Fund to market Panamanian destinations, but inmthe 2021 budget f $ 15 million is contemplated.

"Cutting off the nation's ability to generate foreign income would have dire consequences for the entire national economy, from restaurants to tourism companies, retail trade to light industries and, of course, for the treasury," said a statement from Apatel.

Like Camtur, Apatel asks the Government "to urgently open a consultation dialogue with representatives of the tourism industry, in order to ensure that the measures are agreed upon for the benefit of the nation."



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Panama launches Discovered by Nature campaign

Posted 07/02/2021

The International Tourism Promotion Fund (Promtur) will expand the dissemination of the digital campaign "Discovered by Nature" to publicize the natural, historical and cultural attractions of Panama.

Since its launch last year, the campaign has focused on the United States and Canada, but now it will also be viewed in Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia and Argentina, markets that in the past have brought a significant flow of visitors to the country.

Fernando Fondevila, CEO of Promtur, said that the campaign will be activated from February 16 to March 15, and explained that in addition to digital content, they will use influencers who will become ambassadors for the country brand.
Since its launch last year, the campaign has focused on the United States and Canada, but now it will also be viewed by clients in Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Argentina, markets that in the past have brought a significant flow of visitors to the country.

Fondevila,  said that the campaign will be activated from February 16 to March 15, and explained that in addition to digital content, at this stage they will use influencers who will become ambassadors for the country brand.

Funds cut

$6.8 million will be Promtur's budget for 2020 after the Panama Tourism Authority  (ATP)announced that it does not have the funds to meet the $20 million annually that it must transfer to the entity.

The ATP said that the Fund has capital that was not used in the past and that together with the contributions of 2021 they add up to $44 million.

Fondevila participated in the forum "Let's save tourism", organized by the Chiriquí Chamber of Tourism, where he explained that at the end of 2020 the "Panama Discovered By Nature" campaign achieved more than 25 million impressions on social networks and reached two million potential visitors.



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Tourism industry looks to vaccines to aid recovery


Posted 21/03/2021

The airline and tourism industry, which together contributed 11% to the GDP before the pandemic, predict that the recovery will be slow, based on the results of the first two months of the year.

In February, passenger traffic through the Tocumen International Airport totaled 376,182 people, 71% lower than the same period in 2020, while the comparison between January and February of this year reflects a decrease of 17.9%.

Entrepreneurs recognize that low passenger movements can have a domino effect across the entire service and supply chain, including restaurants and others.

However, they consider the application of vaccines to reactivate the economy and win the battle against the coronavirus as positive reports La Prensa.



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Travel magazines boost Panama tourism hopes


Posted 03/05/2021

While hotel occupancy, did not exceed 10% in the first quarter of the year, reports by two travel magazines could herald better days for the Panamanian tourism sector, hard hit by the measures adopted against the coronavirus pandemic.

The publications International Living and Smithsonian Magazine included Panamanian destinations among the recommendations that tourists should follow, as international travel has been reactivated despite the pandemic.

International Living, compiled data from islands that meet the right conditions for travelers to spend long stays, even settle permanently.

Isla Colón, in the province of Bocas del Toro, occupied the second position in the list headed by the island of Phu Quoc, in Vietnam. International Living says that a traveler can live with a monthly income of $1,200, an income that would allow them to access housing and a quiet life in front of the sea.

 Smithsonian Magazine made a compendium of the cultural festivals that should be on the list of travelers interested in knowing the artistic and ethnic expressions of other cultures.

The Congo culture festival, which takes place in Portobelo, province of Colón, is worth observing, since it is the inheritance of the descendants of the slaves brought from Africa to Panama in colonial times.



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Panama: Plan to Reactivate Tourism

The Cabinet Council approved several impact measures for the reactivation of the tourism sector and the economy, including the Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism 2020-2025.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism (PMTS) 2020-2025 will focus on strengthening the institutional capacity of the ATP, investing in the country's tourism promotion, improving the tourism products offered by Panama and in infrastructure, maintenance and basic services.

From the press release of the Panama Tourism Authority:

May 27, 2021. The Cabinet Council, in a face-to-face session held at the Panama Convention Center, in Amador, approved several impact measures for the reactivation of the tourism industry and the economy, including the Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism 2020-2025 (PMTS), as well as B/.20 million for the construction of the Cruise Port in Amador and the delivery of the order to proceed for the study, design, construction and financing for the interconnection of the Cinta Costera 3 with the Amador Causeway, for B/.46,041,191.00.

As a first point, the Cabinet approved an additional credit for up to B/.24 million in favor of the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) to strengthen the investment program of this entity, mainly with the purpose of allocating B/.20 million for the continuation of the construction of the Cruise Port of Amador and another B/.2 million for the reconstruction of the dock of Puerto Armuelles, in the province of Chiriqui.
In addition, the Cabinet approved the resolution that recognizes the Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism (PMTS) 2020-2025 as a tourism planning instrument of the Republic of Panama.

The administrator of the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP), Ivan Eskildsen, supported the Plan as the new rethinking of Panama's tourism offer, which was successfully presented at the recent International Tourism Fair (FITUR), in Spain.



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