Tourism Up 11.7% in Panama Despite Ecomonic Crisis

March 30, 2009
In spite of the global financial crisis, tourism grew in Panama 11.7% in January, said tourism Minister Ruben Blades today. He said both the number of visitors and the money spent in the country by tourists increased.

According to the data from the Tourism Authority of Panama, in January 2009 - 162,099 tourists visited Panama, 11.7% more than during the same month in 2008, representing an increase of 15.9% in tourism spending, up to $136.9 million dollars. Blades said the "traditional" tourists who arrive in Panama come from the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, and Colombia. Now, Panama is trying to focus efforts on attracting European tourists "because of the Euro" and because "they stay longer, between 15 to 28 days" said Blades.

During January 2009 tourists from the United States (23,189), Colombia (19,340), Venezuela (14,941), Canada (5,636) and Argentina (4,707) visited Panama. The Spaniards are the European tourists who travel more to Panama. Nevertheless, the greatest increases of tourists came from increased numbers of visitors from Venezuela (486%), Argentina (134%), Mexico (51.5%) and the United States (25.3%).

The new campaign presented by Blades to attract tourists tries to "elevate the self-esteem of the country" and to "eliminate the off seasons in Panama," as well as to diversify destinations so that the "wealth is distributed between the different zones of the country." One of the most elements of the project presented by Blades includes the possibility to vote for the "Ten Wonders of the Country" (three per province) through a system of voting on the Internet and cellular phones, besides the indigenous ethnic groups, who have been proclaimed as the tenth. The next advertising campaigns will be centered on those ten wonders.