Contributed by: Don WinnerMore than 200,000 Panamanians and foreigners traveled into the interior of the country to celebrate Easter. The number of tourists who migrated towards the interior during Holy Week exceeded the number who traveled to different provinces in the celebration of the Panamanian Carnival. These figures benefited the tourism market, because about 90% of hotels within the country had no rooms available. The most visited places on this occasion were the central provinces, Bocas del Toro and Chiriqui.
According to data from the Land Transit and Transportation Authority (ATTT), more than 71,000 cars crossed the Centennial Bridge or the Bridge of the Americas, which went into the country.
Sara Pardo, president of the Panamanian Association of Hotels (Apatel), said normally during Easter many people living in the capital and foreigners travel to the countryside, most in the company of family to share and enjoy together. "In these days of Easter, the hotel sector, specifically within the country, will have a large number of visitors, because there is high demand and have a high occupancy rate," Pardo estimated. Pardo noted this year there has been a large increase in the hotel sector, but even though there has been a high availability of rooms, there are still opportunities to venture into this business because every day the tourist market demands more hotels, especially at the beaches. She also said every year for the holidays, the hotel industry in the capital city sees a decrease in occupation, because customers choose to go for a ride into the country.
For many years, the highest concentration of tourists during Easter is registered with the country's beaches, either in Bocas del Toro, in central provinces in Coronado or Farallon, said Pardo. According to the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) in 2011 more that 2 million tourists reached the Isthmus, many attracted by the beautiful beaches in Panama. Shamah Solomon, general manager of the ATP, during his speech at the fair Expocomer 2012, said that competitiveness and confidence of the tourists are two elements that will attract new investment to the country, because Panama is a new tourist destination.
Meanwhile, Jaime Campusano, president of the National Tourism Council, said at Easter, usually the hotel occupancy behavior is reversed from the capital into the country, especially because Panamanians go to visit their families or enjoy a holiday. Jaime Campusano said: "Practically, because of this celebration inside of the country hotel occupancy in the capital drops down to 50%." The interior always has a high demand of tourists, for example, beach hotels have reservations well in advance and although supply has increased, the occupation continues to record high levels, Campusano said. (Panama America)