This represented a combined investment of $433.7 million dollars, which comes to $5.3 million dollars less than what was recorded in 2011. In total, the investment in hotels, hostels and other forms of accommodation between 2010 and 2012 reached $1,013,000,000 dollars. In terms of space, this investment meant that 4,000 new rooms were made available in the hospitality market, bringing the country's total inventory to nearly 30,000 hotel rooms.
Such a growth in supply was one of the reasons why hotel occupancy fell by 10% last year in the capital city. Although tourist arrivals increased by 4.6% in 2012, it was not enough to fill all the new rooms that had entered the market.
Of the 58 new lodging establishments that began operations last year, 39.6% are located in the capital city, 25.8% in the province of Chiriquí, and the rest distributed among Colón, Coclé, Bocas del Toro and Los Santos. The overwhelming majority, some 90%, have less than 100 rooms, mostly hostels, bed and breakfasts, cabins and bungalows.
Large projects were also inaugurated in 2012, such as the Westin Playa Bonita with its 611 rooms and the Hard Rock Cafe with over one thousand rooms. With the new law on tourism incentives that was recently signed by this administration, the private sector hopes that investors will look to the interior province, where new infrastructure is needed.
The legislation included tax incentives not only for new construction, but also for expansions on existing buildings. For this reason, last year approximately 1,273 new jobs were created, but that doesn't even take into account employment created by expansions on hotels that were already operating. Similar behavior is expected for 2013. More than 10 hotels are still being built in the capital city, and this year the Royal Sonesta, Sortis, Hilton Panama, Howard Johnson and Holiday Inn, among others, are projected to open for business.