By category, the queries for hotels in Panama have increased by 117% in the past two years, while those for car rentals have gone up by 100%. Susana Pabón, Communications Manager for Google in Colombia, Central America and the Caribbean, hit the nail on the head for this issue: the Internet has changed the way that people schedule their vacations. It is no longer necessary to go to a travel agency or to go to the airline office to purchase a plane ticket. Now many people are deciding where to have their next vacation based on information they find on the web, she added.
According to the World Tourism Organization, the number of trips purchased online in the United States is greater than those reserved by any other manner. In Panama's case, Copa Airlines, Pedasí, Valle de Antón, beach tourism, Panamanian carnivals and Tocumen Airport are some of the most searched-for keywords for tourism in Panama on the Internet. Pabón indicated that companies should understand the significance of having an online presence, but added that the webpages should be user-friendly and list detailed information on their products and prices.
The numbers presented by Google confirm the report by the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP), which reported 100,000 visits last July to the site www.visitpanama.com. In one year, monthly searches increased from 39,000 to 100,000. A quarter of the traffic is registered as coming from the United States, and 10% from Spain and Brazil. Of the total queries, 63% were done using the Google system.
Internet marketing specialist Ursula Kiener pointed out that, to enhance a visitor's online experience, the webpage should offer information in the tourist's language. The website ww.visitpanama.com can be read in four languages: Spanish, English, Portuguese, and French. Although ATP administrator Salomón Shamah did not give out any figures, he mentioned that next year more funds will be slated for increasing the online marketing of Panamanian destinations.
1.2 Million visitors entered over the first seven months of the year.
106% Increase in Google searches for flights to Panama from 2010-2012.
80%Of Panamanians spend more than 5 hours per day on the Internet, according to the Google report 'Research Online Purchase Offline'.