Since early last year, approximately 200 conferences have been held, according to the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP).
The growing number of events contributes both to Panama's international recognition and its national economy. The ATP cites that conventions that took place in the country in 2012 generated from 45 to 50 million dollars in foreign exchange.
Each person who enters the country to attend a conference or convention injects an estimated $300 dollars daily into the Panamanian economy in transportation, dining, lodging, and shopping.
Several hotel executives agreed that many foreigners who enter the country to attend a convention extend their average three-day stay to go sightseeing. "We're seeing that the client sticks around to see more of the country and enjoy all of Panama's bounty and beauty," reported the sales coordinator for the hotel Sheraton Panama, Antonio Mansredonio.
The executive added that all of this activity automatically permeates the country's economy through the tourists' spending.
Flight connectivity, security, and affordable prices are some of the features that attract companies to bring their gatherings to Panama. "Diverse and attractive accomodation options, the international banking system, extraordinary shopping, worldwide-famous attractions like the Panama Canal, and a modern city" are the assets the ATP mentioned when explaining why the Isthmus is on its way to becoming a hub for conventions.
Furthermore, Panama provides a medical insurance valued at $7,000 for free to everyone who enters the country as a tourist, covering any sickness and accident that may occur to them in Panamanian territory for up to 30 days.
Panama City has more than 12,000 hotel rooms, counting the large hotel chains in operation like Riu Plaza Panama, Miramar Intercontinental, Sheraton Panama, Hard Rock Hotel, and Hotel El Panama.
Thanks to its vast supply of lodging, the isthmus can serve as a venue for large-scale conventions, as was the case with the recent World Missionary Movement Convention, which reunited 10,000 people and spiked hotel occupancy levels up to 90%.
In addition, the Expocomer event, the largest annual fair dedicated to promoting business meetings and commerce among the industrial and service sectors in America, Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean, brought together more than 5,000 people.
This year's agenda also includes the first Summit of the Organization of American Firefighters, which is expected to bring in 1,500 people for a three-day event in July, informed the country's tourism institution.
The wide selection of hotels established in Panama has spurred competition among them to be chosen as the headquarters of the bigger conventions.
"Usually it is up to each company to choose its event venue, according to its needs and taking into account the hotel's location, conference rooms, furnishings, staff, rooms, pricing and extras offered," explained Laura Robles of the hotel Riu Plaza Panama.
Nevertheless, the ATP said that another way to select the appropriate venue is for the organizers to seek advice and information on the country's supply of hotels, since "there is always one hotel venue and other alternatives."
The client defines their needs to the ATP: exhibition and meeting size, number of participants, hotel quality and rate, rooms and meals.
The hotels then submit their proposals for the client to select the most suitable option. Generally, several hotels end up providing their services.
Antonio Mansredonio, at the Sheraton, commented that "when the company is searching for an event venue, it has to choose a space that duly meets all of its client needs."
Such levels of competition has urged private enterprise and government to continually expand their infrastructure. The Megápolis Convention Center, which holds 4,000 people, is one such new development. In addition, government institutions have announced a project to build a convention center with capacity for 20,000 people in the Amador area.