For the past few years Panama has been trying to enter the tourism market strongly and with a competitive offer. The ATP, Panama’s Tourism Authority has this year come up with an aggressive strategy to make Panama one of the top destinations for tourists through marketing campaigns such as Panama 25% off, in London a number of taxi cabs are painted with ads for visiting Panama, Panamanian consul’s are now also tourism ambassadors for Panama and some embassies even have a “tourism attache”. There is a 24/7 international tourism contact center being put in place to provide information on Panama and assistance to tourists who may run into trouble in Panama, new airports are being built and the main airport is undergoing constant renovation to better handle the flow of passengers.
Panama has a lot to offer a visitor yet there has not been, until now, a joint national effort to make tourism as an industry grow nor Panama as a country be seen worldwide as an attractive and safe destination. It is important to remember that Panama is geographically a small country and within that small space Panama packs a lot of nature and a lot of entertainment. Just think that you can go from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean in about an hour and a half by car. Panama is famous for its biodiversity. It currently has approximately 4,479 different superior animal species living in its small territory. It is the 28th country on a global scale in terms of absolute diversity of superior species.
Panama’s hard work at becoming a tourist destination has paid off and early this year the American magazine Budget Travel selected Panama as one of the 10 destinations to visit this year, mentioning that Panama has led the pack in tourism growth with approximately 20% growth the last two years versus growth registered for 2005 and 2006.
Hard work is still paying off for Panama. On November 2, the charter flight season from Canada started. Fifty thousand Canadians are expected to enter the country looking for sun, beaches and tropical breezes. They will be heading straight for all included hotels such as Decameron, Breezes, Playa Blanca, Decapolis, Playa Bonita and Gamboa. The charters will be operated by Transat and Sun Wing with the peak season being between December and April.
Even though Panama has already attained some positioning as a tourist destination it keeps working at building it’s share. Recently Panama’s main airline COPA organized a visit to Panama for tourism wholesalers and tourist service providers to showcase its program COPA Vacations. It was also an opportunity to show that the tourism offer of Panama has grown immensely in just a few years. The 280 representatives were taken to El Valle and to the new resorts in the Pacific like Breezes, Buenaventura, Decameron, among others. It was also mentioned during this visit that an airport would be built in the resort area to facilitate arrival of tourists. The director of Civil Aeronautics Authority in Panama indicated that feasibility plans for this airport may begin before the end of this year, be finalized by mid 2010 and construction, if all goes according to plan, may be slated for 2011. For 2010 the airports of Colon and David, Chiriqui are scheduled for improvements in order to receive international flights. There is a budget of 43 million USD for these two airports.
For More info on Panama: PanamaQmagazine