Marisel Martínez, National Airports Director, pointed out that currently Air Panama is the only company that carries passengers to the province. “They make an effort to meet passenger demand,” Martínez added. Anabella Palma, regional director of the Panama Tourism Authority, estimates that the new Enrique Malek airport will become the backbone of the economy in Chiriquí. Palma contends that Chiriquí has recorded notable growth in the hotel industry. “The present two thousand rooms are not enough to meet the demand of tourists who will visit the province,” she claimed.
The official explained that she has met with leaders of tourism businesses to discuss two issues: increasing the number of hotel rooms and encouraging continuous improvement in the service provided. Manuel Reyes Sicily, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Chiriquí, agrees with Palma that more hotel options will be needed.
“We need more capacity than the 2,000 rooms that we currently have, in order to notice any growth in tourism,” shared the business leader. Sicilia believes that David will be the place of direct entry for thousands of travelers. Last year, 200,000 tourists visited the province, and many of them entered through Paso Canoas. Just in December, 44,000 people entered the country.
But not everyone is in agreement. Oscar Jiménez, who manages a hotel in David, assured us that more hotels are not yet needed.