Aware of the country's potential to become a regional leader in this industry, ATP executives created the Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) to promote and develop the market for meetings, conventions, and events to be held in a destination like Panama. It is a non-profit entity, composed of 7 ATP officials, that operates as a public-private partnership. They have developed methods to calculate that a 100-person congress scheduled for 4 nights generates a sum of $200,000 dollars; five of such events would inject one million dollars into the economy.
The DMO utilizes sales and marketing strategies integrated with the private tourism sector and the community. It gathers all the stakeholders, public and private, onto the same team to more effectively attract and respond to the international market demand for these types of meetings. The group specializes in providing advertising and consulting services to businesses, organizations, and associations that are interested in holding meetings and conventions in Panama. In addition, they offer a diverse range of hotel, transportation, and entertainment tour options for group events within the existing convention centers in Panama, plus folklore and souvenirs.
Teamwork is the key to saving time and resources and fulfilling all the meetings' needs at a lower cost. The link with event organizers is very effective, as with just one phone call they can have access to information on the entire destination.
The DMO is marketing itself in international fairs that specialize in this type of tourism and in meetings with global organizers and local associations. Experts point out that the meetings market is very diverse, and Panama is taking full advantage by creating niches in religion, sports, medicine, entertainment, corporate, weddings, and more.
In 2013, 180 events took place in Panama, which generated 150,000 hotel nights. October alone had 180 conventions, among these the International Congress of the Spanish Language and the Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government.
In facts and figures:
- The new Amador Convention Center will open its doors in the first trimester of 2015.
- Tocumen airport currently has 245 flight frequencies to North America, 136 to Central America, 609 to South America, and 17 to Europe.
- Annually, 7 million passengers pass through Tocumen airport.
- Tourists from 119 countries of the world do not need a visa to visit Panama.
The DMO habilitated some 16,000 hotel rooms to accommodate the congresses and activities scheduled for this year. One of the first to come up is the centennial celebration of the Panama Canal in August, and the 500th anniversary of Panama City will be in 2015. The country's capital is increasingly important and modern, with the only metro system in all of Central America. It will also be hosting the world pediatrician congress.
New Convention Center in Paseo de Amador
The new Amador Convention Center, located at the entrance to the Panama Canal and behind the Figali amphitheater, will be a 40,000 square-meter structure built on eleven hectares of land. With this new construction, Panama will be able to compete as a venue for events with up to 10,000 attendees. The modern building will feature an outdoor auditorium for various events and will be ready by mid 2014.
The complex, considered both efficient and functional, will include 16 meeting rooms, a 1,947-seat theater, a 2,000-seat amphitheater, exhibition halls, and multipurpose rooms. It will have an iconic design to adorn its greatest tourist attraction: the Panama Canal. Visitors will be able to observe ships transiting the Canal from within the atrium, designed with a double-walled facade of wood over glass to create a chimney effect and a cozy atmosphere.
Intended as a performance venue for local artists to display their talents, the convention center will feature banquet halls, a theater, exhibition halls, and an observation tower. Access to the site will be incredibly easy, as it will connect to the Coastal Strip currently under construction, a route that will provide a direct and quick link to the airport and other sites in the city. The design for the Amador Convention Center's theater finished among the top 25 global projects at the World Architecture News Awards. A panel of international experts rated the new theater as one of sophisticated design, with the dramatic shape of a bird outstretching its wings. The theater's design efficiently coordinates elements in the building's future site. Expectations for the new Convention Center are that it will be transformed into an iconic building in Panama City and position the country as a destination for conventions.
It will be ready in early 2015. In Panama, the opportunities for meeting and convention tourism are partnered with the unforgettable experiences from guided tours of biosphere and Indian reservations.
Beach and shopping tourism accompany an agenda with much added value for event organizers, especially considering that the distances are short and in but a few minutes to a couple hours you can go from one environment to another.