Air connectivity and cruise home port, assets for tourism

Air connectivity and the home port for cruise ships provide a great advantage to the tourism industry in Panama. These are part of the logistics infrastructure being promoted internationally in marketing the country brand of Panama as a tourist destination, said businessmen in the tourism sector.

At the end of last year, the industry recorded a record-breaking one billion dollars in revenue. Experts claim that this economic behavior is linked to the tourism boom the country is undergoing. In certain seasons, demand has even outpaced supply, despite the heavy investment made to support tourists during peak times such as Carnival, Holy Week and Independence Day.

Ernesto Orillac, Deputy Minister of Tourism, expects tourism to continue to grow, and estimates visitor arrivals to increase by 7% in 2013.

According to the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP), these approximate figures are supported by upcoming convention attendance, which are expected to generate 120,000 hotel nights. “This affirms our position as a destination for conventions,” asserted Orillac.

The new country brand campaign, "Panama The Way", looks to polish Panama's image as an economically prospering nation that inspires confidence for investors and offers great attractions to visitors.

The ATP reported that the latest festivities celebrated in the country, like Carnival and Easter, brought in enough tourists to fill hotels to above 90% occupancy levels, both in the countryside provinces and in the capital city.

Sara Pardo, general manager of Westin Panama, believes that “the tourism sector has seen an increase in recent years,” but she assured that “there are still opportunities yet to be explored in the business, especially in the market for beachside hotels in the interior provinces.” Tourism has become a major source of revenue for the country. In January 2013 alone, tourists spent around $235 million dollars, 13% more than in the same month the previous year, according to ATP statistics.