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Tourism In Panama, Trends For The Coming Year

By Will Irvine

Panama is investing heavily in tourism.  The government as a whole seems to be intent on attracting foreigners to Panama, be it to do business or as occasional tourists.    The government is set to invest $800,000.00 in publicity for Panama.  The ATP (Panama Tourism Authority) is confident that 2010 will be an excellent year for tourism in Panama.  Part of their confidence stems from the fact that even though 2009 was a difficult year which particularly impacted travel due to the


worldwide flu scare the amount of visitors to Panama only dropped by 1% and their consumption increased by $50 million. 

The new publicity campaign consists of commercials in which Mr. Roberto Duran will extol the virtues of Panama.  The film clips will be from 15 seconds to 15 minutes in which Mr. Duran, Panama's boxing legend, will show different Panamanian spots that may be of interest to tourists.  The ATP has contracted space in several television networks where the film clips will be shown.  Some of the places that are highlighted are Boquete, Chiriqui, Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro, Panama City and the beaches.  Photographic campaigns of places considered tourism destinations are also being carried out.

The idea is to attract tourist from Europe without forgetting the captive markets: North America and Latin America.  One of the plans is to discuss the possibility of tourists from Europe buying tickets with destinations such as Europe-Bocas or Europe-Chiriqui, among others and have them take a connecting flight to these end destinations directly from Tocumen. 

Panama is also hosting next year two important tourism industry business to business fairs.  From May 12 to May 15 TALTExpo (The Americas Luxury Travel Expo) which is geared towards suppliers and buyers from all over the world involved in luxury tourism to see the offer of products available in the Caribbean and Latin America for this sector of the industry.  A variety of products will be displayed in this fair such as hotels, villas, airlines and charters, cruises and yachts, tour operators, adventure travel and eco tourism, among other segments of interest. 

In terms of product offer Panama has also ramped up its offer and consolidated it.  For example in terms of eco tourism there is a well advertised offer that is now easily accessible to tourists.  Easily accessible means that it tourist would find it easy to arrange for a tour to these places.  One of the most popular day tours is the tour to a typical Embera village where the tourist will be able to travel on a cayuco through rivers to the village, where Indians in native dress will lead the tourist to some natural sites and upon return to the village there are native dances, food and crafts.  There are also specialized agencies who will arrange for hiking tours be it day tours close to the city or several day tours such as climbing the Volcán Barú in Chiriquí.    There is also canopy, thermal springs, among other eco offerings. 

In November from the 17th to the 19th Panama will also host the VII ALTA AIRLINE LEADERS FORUM where the participation of around 500 businesses is expected.  This is interesting in the sense that it also boosts the convention tourism segment which if properly marketed could account for $50 million in income for the country.



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