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Sunday, July 15 2018 @ 09:01 PM EDT

Panama Canal Viewpoints Have Achieved Earnings Of $25 Million

Canal Daily OperationAppreciating the operation of the Panama Canal, the transit of vessels and even the expansion work, is also good business. Proof of this is that in the last 10 years it has raised $25.8 million in admission fees for the visitor centers.

Of this grand total, the center of Miraflores brings in the most, with a total of $23,202,373.50.

These figures are due to the increase in visits, mainly by non-residents, because this is a representative symbol of the country.

Last year, visitor centers, including the new one in the Atlantic, raised over four million dollars, thanks to the 813,000 visitors. Meanwhile, from October 2012 to April 2013 there have made over two million dollars.

Visits

In the last 10 years, about 5 million people have attended the viewpoints, drawn by one of the wonders of the world.

From last October to April, around 552,040 have attended the visitor centers of the ACP. About 474,882 people went to the visitor center in Miraflores, over 55,000 to the one in Gatun and around 22,147 to the observation center in Atlantic.

78% of the visitors that have gone to Miraflores are foreigners and 7.6% are residents. The rest are from courtesy tickets.

According to statistics from the center of Miraflores, in 2012 a higher percentage of visitors was registered during the months of January, February and December.

Sixta Diaz, manager of the Unit of Visitor Centers, said the number of people visiting the centers represent, proportionally, the increase in tourism in Panama.

She said the Observation Center of the Panama Canal Expansion was built so foreigners and locals could appreciate this engineering work of art; however, they are a bit slow when it comes to visits, as many people are unaware of the existence of this place, which was opened last August. He reported this center has a store and a cafe, and it will soon open a restaurant, which will make it easier to stay at the place, which also provides the opportunity to be in touch with nature through tours around ecological trails. "I believe tourism has increased in this center, because people who attend the place are thrilled with the panoramic," said Diaz.

She said Panamanians often complain about the lack of recreational facilities, however, "these are places to visit with your family."

The Panama Canal is an international symbol that has been visited by celebrities, athletes, politicians and even royalty.

Among the characters who have visited the Panama Canal are Hillary Clinton, Elena (Duchess of Lugo), Gilberto Santa Rosa, players from the Spanish soccer team, among others.

This engineering masterpiece has also has contributed to the professional development of many Panamanians, through professional practice, such as the work they do every day at the facilities of the Canal.

Maria Valdes is a student in the career of Cultural Historical Tourism at the University of Panama, who is doing her professional practice at the center of visitors in Miraflores. She says it has been very rewarding to be in this place, and she has learned things about the Panama Canal and is in constant contact with tourists.

Ivan Berrio is one of the specialist guides for the tour of the Miraflores Locks at the visitor center.

He said he started working in the Canal 21 years ago, during the times of the Panama Canal Commission and he has been a guide for 12 to 13 years.

He began working as a fireman, then he was a paramedic, he has also been a Human Resources instructor, a maritime traffic controller, a traffic advisor, guide, among others.

What he likes the most about his job, he said, is to see the impression visitors get when they start learning about the details, when they have visual and physical access to the facilities, museum, and they can observe the transit of the ships.

"I am struck by people who have said they are making their dream come true by getting to know the Panama Canal operations," he said.

From Monday to Thursday, around 1,000 to 1,500 people visit the center. During Friday, Saturday and Sunday about 3,000 visit the place; however, there have been extraordinary days in which they have received from 3000 to 5000 visitors a day, said Berrio.

Yenny Navarrete is a tourist from Honduras who expressed her enthusiasm in visiting the center, "this is the first time I visit this place, and I find its history to be very interesting."

Investment

The Miraflores Visitor Center has undergone major renovations to its infrastructure, with the purpose of providing a decent place for visitors to appreciate what the Panama Canal represents.

With an investment of approximately $2 million, adjustments have been made to the main entrances, mainly for people with physical disabilities, as well as a new ticket office, the installation of a new elevator and the interior design of the rooms and the terrace roof. (Panama America)

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