A million visitors in the first semester

As a tourist destination, Panama continues to capture the attention of thousands of visitors who seek to discover new places.

In the first six months of the year, 1,118,000 tourists visited Panama, an additional 42,577 tourists compared to the previous year.

This figure represents a 4% increase over the first quarter last year.

Nevertheless, occupancy levels at hotels in the capital continue to plummet.

Reports by the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) show that by June the overall occupancy was at 59.2%, having dropped 1.9% in respect to the first six months of 2012.

Hotels with under 100 rooms, which represent 60% of the accommodations in the province of Panama, reported that their rooms were 56.5% full, the lowest occupancy level in the last five years.

Establishments with over 100 rooms are not immune to this reality, spurred by a surge in the number of hotels operating. This has led to a price war in the sector just to maintain a high enough occupation level to come out profitable. Among these hotels, occupancy by the end of the first semester reached 61.8%, whereas two years ago it was at 70% in the low season.

By late 2012 the Esplendor hotel had shut its doors, citing low occupancy, after having been opened since only 2010.

According to the consulting firm Indesa, occupancy levels in the province of Panama will fall to 55% in 2013, and then even lower to 52% in 2014.

Some 15 hotels are still under construction in the capital city, which will place increasing pressure on the sector over the coming months once they are added to the lodging offer.

Around the country 6,200 new rooms were built between 2010 and 2012, and 72% of these, or 4,500 rooms, were constructed in the capital city.

In terms of tourist spending, a figure that excludes the cost of airfare, the Comptroller General reports that visitors who arrived from January to June spent on the order of $1,216 million dollars, $116 million more than in the same period the previous year.

It is estimated that, on average, a tourist stays for eight days in the country and spends $136 daily during the visit.

Sixty-eight percent of tourists arriving in the country in the first half of the year entered through Tocumen International Airport, while 7.7% came in by crossing the Panama-Costa Rica border at Paso Canoa.

TOURIST DESTINATION

7.6%

Drop in tourism by North Americans in the first semester.

1.9%

Increase of cruise passenger arrivals from January to June.

2.1

Millions of visitors entered the country in 2012.

Source: www.laprensa.com.pa