Barcelona, 28th November 2012. Panama is keen on business travel, as the country is focusing on both developing new facilities and improving its tourist services. The construction of the new Panama Conference Centre, that will hold 20.000 people and in which Panama has invested 149 million euro, is the last project that has been launched due to the great demand of congress, conventions and corporate events tourism.
The Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) aims at reaching 400.000 overnight hotel stays at the end of 2014 as well as increasing the value of tourism growth from 12 to 15%, according to Ernesto Orillac, the Vice-Minister of Tourism of Panama, who attended today The Global Meetings and Events Exhibition (EIBTM) in Barcelona. It is estimated that at least 40.000 people will visit the country in the next two years to take part in more than 15 international events. One of the most important will be the sporting event Ironman Panamá, which will reach 2.000 visitors in February 2013, whereas the International Missionary Council will bring together around 15.000 people from all over the American continent in May 2013.
In 2011, Panama was the site of 66 congresses and it is expected that this number will increase this year, reaching a total of 126 events and 120.000 hotel stays. In 2011 these meetings turned into 90.000 overnight hotel stays.
At present, the country has more than 600 hotels and 23.500 beds in tourist accommodations. International hotel chains have invested in accommodation facilities, which have allowed the opening of 50 new hotels in term 2012-2013.
Last year, Panama reached 2 million international visitors, and the tourist industry generated an income to the tune of 2.000 million euro. The Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) estimates that in 2012 the country will reach 2.2 million tourists.
57.000 m2 devoted to congresses, conventions and international events
The new Conference Centre ranks Panama as the best alternative for business events in Latin America. The congress center, which is expected to open in 2014, was performed by consortium HPC-Contratas, which comprises Panamanian, Spanish, Costa Rican and Puerto Rican financial capital.
Situated in the area of the Panama Canal and the Museum of Biodiversity, also known as Biomuseo, the center, with 57.000 m2, has got 16 meeting rooms, a theatre with 1.947 seats and an amphitheatre for 2.000 people. Besides its exhibition hall of more than 15.000 m2, the new building will also include a restaurant and a multi-use facility measuring approximately 4.000 m2.
Panama Canal enlargement and Tocumen International Airport
The expansion of the Panama Canal and a new terminal at Tocumen Airport are the answer from the Latin American country to the growing demand of both passengers and cargo.
The Panama Canal, the strategic point of commercial transport in the American continent, will improve its infrastructures at the same time its centenary takes place. This symbol of the country, both for its economic and tourism value is also carrying out an extension of its facilities, which will culminate in 2012. Improvement Works, which started in 2007, consist partly of the construction of two wider and more effective locks, which will complement those already existing: Miraflores, Gatún and Pedro Miguel.
Apart from this, Tocumen Airport registered an entry of more than 6 million passengers during 2011. The main gateway for tourists to Panama has registered already a total of 1.115.647 passengers this year, which represents an increase of 160.230 visitors in comparison to the previous year, and a growth percentage rate of 16.8 %.
The international airport is the most important one in both Panama and Central America, with flights to American as well as European cities. At present, there are 12 direct flights to North America, more than 80 direct flights to Caribbean countries, Central America and South America and daily flights to Europe. In addition, Panama has got 13 local airports which cover the different regions in the country and connect to places such as Chiriquí, Coclé, Los Santos or Bocas del Toro.
Biomuseo of Biodiversity, a key role to boost the development of tourism and culture
Since 2013, Panama will open the Museum of Biodiversity, also known as Biomuseo, a project of 4.000 m2 designed by the world-renowned architect el Frank Gehry devoted to biodiversity and conservation. The new center gives an explanation on how the Isthmus of Panama emerged in overall biodiversity three million years ago. It was a geological event that changed climate across the world and affected both animal and plant species, which made that the Caribbean Sea turned into an enclosed sea.
The Biomuseo of Biodiversity will have more than 4.000 m2 spread across 8 exhibition rooms and botanical gardens. The museum, which is right now under construction, offers guided tours to check the progress of the project.