Panama has become a tourism benchmark at the international level, and the proof is that tourist spending increased from $706 million dollars in 2002 to $2,916,000 in 2011, and reaching a total of $16,712,000 over a period of 10 years.
According to the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) during the first quarter of 2012, a total of 796,700 tourists entered the country; whereas during the same period last year 764,214 visitors entered the isthmus, i.e. 32,486 travelers more than at the same time last year, which represents a positive percentage change of 4.3%.
In terms of tourism expenditures from January to April of this year, travelers left a total of 760.2 million dollars, or 134.3 million dollars more than during the same period in 2011, when they spent 625.9 million dollars, resulting in an increase of 21.5%.
Tocumen International Airport remains the main point of entry for tourists, with 514,862 people entering the country during the first quarter of the year, representing an increase of 19.9% in comparison with the same months in the previous year, when 429,862 visitors entered.
The cruise ship ports registered a total of 189,173 tourists from January to April in 2012, which amounts to 53,502 less travelers than the previous year, representing a drop of 22%.
According to official sources at ATP, this decline is due to the suspended operations of two cruise ships in the port of Colón 2000 and the cancellation of several cruise ships that were to arrive at the country.
The Paso Canoas entrance also reflects a decline in tourist arrivals to the country, with 953 less visitors. 60,624 tourists entered the isthmus from January to April, 2011, while at the same time during the present year 59,671 travelers were registered as arriving, meaning 1.6% less.
Salomón Shamah, administrator of the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP), pointed out that the statistics show the effectiveness of promotional strategies that have been used, but they are still looking to fill more airline seats.
Among future strategies to continue boosting tourism, the ATP is planing to promote domestic tourism with "Discover your Interior" starting on June 20. The first destination to be promoted is El Valle de Antón, followed by Bocas del Toro and Pedasí. In addition, an amendment to the new tourism bill will lower the limit for tourism investment to $250,000 dollars to encourage the construction of better infrastructure. Furthermore, there are negotiations with airlines to bring in new flights and the implementation of charter flights to growing tourist destinations.
For Sara Pardo, president of the Panamanian Association of Hotels (Apatel), the first months of the year have been beneficial in comparison to last year, thanks to the increase of travelers. She added that they actively work to obtain conferences and conventions.
According to Pardo, the efforts made in conjunction with the Panama Tourism Authority are leading to success and achievement of the stated goals.
In the Republic of Panama there are 619 places that offer lodging, with a total of 21,413 rooms and 33,039 beds, providing 11,612 sources of employment.
According to data from the Tourism Authority, South America continues to be the main source of travelers, with a total of 230,188 visitors during the first four months of the year.
North America provided 163,000 travelers in the first quarter of 2012.
Europe, despite its crisis, brought a total of 51,086 tourists to the country from January to April of the current year.
Statistics from the Tourism Authority
thousand 700 tourists entered national territory during the first quarter of the present year.
thousand 214 travelers entered the Republic of Panama during the months of January to April in 2011.
thousand 612 jobs have been generated by the tourism industry through May 30, 2012.