Tourism Still Growing, But Not As Fast As Last Year
Friday, March 02 2012 @ 12:19 AM UTC
Contributed by: Don Winner
The airport of Tocumen was the main entrance door with about 65% of the movement of tourists. The indigenous protests in late January registered accentuated the lower numbers of people entering Panama via the Paso Canoa border crossing. A report from the Tourism Authority of Panama points out that the entry of visitors through Paso Canoa fell 6% compared with January last year.
Ernesto Orillac, Deputy Administrator of the ATP, acknowledged that double digit growth is not the same as single digit growth, but he said a 6% increase in tourist arrivals is positive for the country. "The challenge for 2012 is to maintain the pace that was achieved last year, and for that we will focus on high potential markets like the United States and Brazil," he said.
Although the Comptroller General has yet to release the official figure in terms of tourist arrivals in 2011, the ATP indicates that last year 2,004,015 tourists entered, or a growth of 16.1% compared to 2010. Hotel occupancy in the capital city grew around 5%.
Sara Pardo, president of the Panamanian Association of Hotels (Apatel) noted that the first two months of the year have been positive for the hotels in the province of Panama. The Herbalife convention and the Ironman sporting event provided a large influx of visitors, and this impacted hotel occupancy, said Pardo. Both events represented the entrance of 9,000 visitors during the month of February.
Apatel calculations indicate this growth will continue for sure until April, because there are small conventions to be held in this period. However, the picture is not so clear after April with the opening scheduled for the month of hotel Hard Rock Cafe (Megapolis), which will have a 1,500 rooms. During 2011, hotel occupancy fell 2% even though tourist arrivals grew 16% due to the market entry of new hotels. This year about 2,000 new hotel rooms are expected to be opened in Panama City, which will impact negatively on the occupation that is projected to fall below 60% in hotels over 100 rooms.
In Panama City 15 new hotels are under construction, and by 2014 it is projected there will be 20 thousand hotel rooms in the capital. (Prensa)