Panama Tourism Grew by 2% in 2009 - $1.5 Billion in Revenues
Monday, April 19 2010 @ 01:07 PM UTC
Contributed by: Don Winner
Editor's Comment: Tourism remains strong in Panama, however Panama counts many visitors as tourists who are really businessmen or investors. For example, thousands of people come to Panama every year to take advantage of the Colon Free Trade Zone. They fly in, make their purchases in cash, arrange to have the goods shipped tax-free to their business in their home country, and then leave. While here they stay at a hotel for a day or two, spend their money on transportation and the purchases they make, but their activities are really much more related to business than traditional tourism. There are many members of the English speaking expatriate community who are "on the books" as tourists but in fact they live in Panama part time, have purchased property which they either use as a vacation home or investment rental property. These people are sort of like half-investors and half-retirees but as far as the bean counters are concerned they are "tourists." It doesn't really matter all that much, just recognize that the real activity on the ground varies from what's generally reported in statistics. And, "tourists" are injecting more than $1.5 billion dollars into Panama's small economy every year, which is excellent in strategic terms. Growing crime rates and violence could threaten those results, especially if more foreigners are targeted by the bad guys.