In addition to the thousands of Panamanians who will be flooding the shopping malls, another 35,000 foreign shoppers are expected to arrive in the country, seeking to cash in on the most advertised sales event of the year, especially for tech gear.
Since late September, tour operators in Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador, Colombia, and Costa Rica have been offering tours to Panama to go shopping in the capital city's main malls.
Depending on where tourists lodge, the tour costs ranged from $600 to $900 dollars, and bargain-crazed buyers could choose packages lasting from 3 to 5 days. Besides visiting the malls, the promotion included tours of the Amador Causeway, Panama Canal, and the ruins of Old Panama.
Local tour operators and hoteliers indicated that hotel occupation levels could reach 70% this week, a positive figure for a sector that has struggled with low occupancy in the face of the rising number of rooms available.
Armando Rodríguez, president of the Panama Association of Small Hotels, estimates that lodging establishments will receive a large influx of visitors this week, but urges that in coming years the region should promote itself in time for the annual sales event that promises up to 70% discounts.
"Panama is a year-round shopping destination, and we should make the most of this opportunity," he added.