Site Meter
Send Us An Email
Panama Guide

Welcome to Panama Guide
Wednesday, July 30 2014 @ 11:09 AM EDT

View Printable Version

III International Tourism Expo Starts in Panama

Travel & TourismIn 2011 Panama received two million tourists for the first time, who left behind more than $2 billion in spending. At least 135 wholesalers from 29 countries are participating today in the third International Tourism Expo, which this year is dedicated to promoting tourist destinations in the interior of Panama, announced corporate sources. The Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP) said in a statement that companies from 13 countries will offer products and services in over 140 exhibit booths until next Saturday, when the meeting concludes.

"The International Tourism Expo drives growth of the tourism industry in the country, allowing exhibitors and international wholesale buyers to establish important business contacts," said the president of the CCIAP, Irving Halman.

In 2011 Panama received two million tourists for the first time, who left behind more than $2 billion in foreign exchange to the country, making this activity one of the pillars of the national economy, according to official figures.

The president of the Chamber of Tourism of Panama (CAMTUR), Annette Cardenas, said this year "we have focused on promoting domestic tourism in Panama, offering spaces, landscapes and world class activities, such as beaches, mountains, ecological tourism, sports (...) and the best fishing sites recognized by professionals."

Expoturismo is organized by the CAMTUR and the CCIAP, is supported by the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP), and is held in the ATLAPA Convention Center in Panama City. During the second version of the specialized exhibition, held in 2011, there were 1800 business contacts, of which 800 were previously coordinated electronically, with a participation of 113 exhibitors and 120 buyers from 34 countries as wholesalers.

The exhibitors come from: Argentina, Bahamas, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, United States, India, Indonesia, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico and St. Martin. While wholesalers are from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, Spain, United States, Finland, Guatemala, Holland, Honduras, England, Mexico, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay , Peru, Puerto Rico, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Russia, Sweden, Uruguay and Venezuela. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Tourism continues to grow and this activity is more and more important to the national Panamanian economy with each passing year. Panama got a late start in the field of tourism in the 70's and 80's compared to Costa Rica, for example, due to the years of the military dictatorship. No one wants to visit a country where you stand a chance of getting tossed out of a helicopter - it's generally a negative vibe. But since the US invasion of Panama in December 1989 and the overthrow of Manual Antonio Noriega to reestablish democracy in the country, and the departure of the US military and the full implementation of the Torrijos - Carter treaty at 12:00 noon on 31 December 1999, tourism has been growing steadily. Infrastructure is improving to meet the demand as tourism dollars pour in and companies learn, grow, and strengthen. But there's still a shortage of trained English or multilingual tour guides. Since Aeroperlas went out of business, there are more tourists who want to visit Bocas del Toro for example, than there are airplane seats to get them there. There are lots of little speed bumps that have to be addressed as tourism in Panama continues to grow and prosper.

  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Announcing Fiesta del Mar 2013, Taboga Island

Travel & TourismTaboga - For the second consecutive year the initiative Fiesta del Mar Taboga will be held, an event that seeks to highlight the benefits and attractions of the "Island of Flowers", Taboga. The Fiesta del Mar will be on 26 and 27 January 2013. The Fiesta will offer attractions for visitors wishing to enjoy two days of fun, sun, beach, adventure, history and more. Direct transportation taking day tourists from hotels in the city will be organized departing from the Amador Pier.

During the day, there will be sports and beachside events including a "Food Festival" which will include a delicious Ceviche contest. There will also be fun activities for the family such as contests, tours, treasure hunts and folkloric presentations. On the evening of Saturday, January 26, visitors can enjoy a campfire under the stars and dancing on the beach with the famous Panamanian Calypso musician Samuel Archer and the Caribbean Sweet Band, as well as during the 2 day festival there will be music by other national artists, and a DJ at the Beach.

All activities will be conducted in the Pier park area and the Playa Honda. There will also be space for small businesses. About 6000 people and foreign visitors are expected to visit the island for the Fiesta which is being held at the beginning of the summer season January 26 and 27th.

Objective - According to the organizers, among which are members of the civil society of Taboga, entrepreneurs (local and foreign) and local government (Taboga Alcaldia), the objective of this Fiesta del Mar initiative is to promote sustainable tourism on Taboga Island, and increase visitor traffic. The annual Fiesta event offers an attractive and fun entertainment for the whole family, which highlights Taboga as an ideal tourist destination for a day, because of its proximity to the capital city, and offering the attractive island environment and culture that have for hundreds of years made Isla Taboga stand out as a jewel of the Pacific. Fiesta del Mar's mission is to continue to support sustainable development on the island of Taboga, through training and program partnerships for the growth of tourism, culture, and micro-enterprise for the benefit of the community of Taboga.

Also, the Fiesta will work to help improve the infrastructure of services to visitors, for example bathrooms, public showers.

This year, the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the South Sea will be celebrated and the Fiesta del Mar, Isla de Taboga will join the celebrations, the Island is located on the Pacific Ocean on Taboga, better known as the “Island of Flowers”, the Island is only an estimated 30 minutes boat ride away from the Panamanian Pacific coast.

For more information:

  • Contact: Cynthia Mulder
  • Email:
  • Web:
  • Twitter:
  • Facebook:

  • Share
    • Facebook
    • Google Bookmarks
    View Printable Version

    Tourists Spent $923.8 Million In Panama During First Five Months of 2012

    Travel & TourismThe total expenditure of the tourists who visited Panama from January to May 2012 was 923.8 million dollars, at the rate of $416.14 per passenger, which indicates that the entry of foreigners increased by 21.1%.

    This was revealed by a report from the Department of Social and Economic Analysis of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, which highlights that the increase in visitors also allowed an increase in the average number of hotel rooms occupied per day, up from 3,973 last year to 4,831 this year.

    On the above, the report explains that because of the increase in the number of hotel rooms operating in Panama City, with 2,137 new rooms added or an increase of 36.5%, the overall rate of hotel occupancy declined from 68% last year to 61.3% this year. If there was no increase in the number of hotel rooms, occupancy rates would have increased to 82%.

    The report shows that the activity of hotels and restaurants also exceeded last year's. Through May 2012 there was a total of 2.2 million passengers, or 22% more than last year. Of the total, there were 895,486 visitors (676,969 tourists, 56,581 on excursions, and 161,936 cruise ship passengers), increasing by 7.4% compared to 2011.

    On average, the total number of visitors have increased by 6.6% every year since 2009, in response to an effort to increase the number of air links from any destination, for both local and foreign airline companies.

    According to the document, with respect to conventional tourism, which has led to the arrival of the visitors, are the possibilities for shopping and conducting multinational conventions or associations. The report talks about the conventions that have taken place during the past two years, because Panama offers, free of charge, the facilities of the Atlapa Convention Center for those meetings that can ensure a minimum of at least 1,500 participants, staying at least one night in the hotels of the city.

    "The plans to boost the tourism sector continue. One is the increased number of connections. The companies continue to negotiate new frequencies for the coming months", highlighted in the report, which reveals that through May 2012, the statistics of the Civil Aviation Authority indicate the connections where visitors were landed were from Bogotá (Colombia), Miami (USA) and Caracas (Venezuela).

    "The places where fewer visitors landed were from Seattle and Indianapolis in the U.S. and Cayman Island in the Caribbean. In another 14 connections, no passengers were reported," says the report. (Estrella)

    Editor's Comment: Tourism has been growing strongly in Panama during the past ten years or so. An average increase of 6.6% per year is excellent. This is just one more sector of the Panamanian economy that continues to expand and grow, excellent news for the overall economy. Very often future residents start their Panama experience by visiting a few times as tourists. It's nice when a tourist comes here to spend a few thousand bucks. But it's even better when they come here to spend a few hundred thousand dollars, to buy a house, buy a car, and spend all of their retirement money. So, while tourists are great, expat residents with an income and money in the bank are even better.

    • Facebook
    • Google Bookmarks
    View Printable Version

    Hanging Out With Humpback Whales and Dolphins In The Bay of Panama

    Travel & TourismBy DON WINNER for - Last Saturday my wife Rossana, daughter Sarah and I went on an all day trip with Whale Watching Panama. Sarah loves anything to do with the water and boats, and we never got a chance to go to Dolphin Bay in Bocas del Toro when we were up there a couple of weeks ago, so it sounded like fun. Thousands of humpback wales migrate up to the warm waters surrounding the Las Perlas Archipelago in the Gulf of Panama every year to breed and give birth. This trip from Antarctica to Panama is the longest migration by any mammal on earth - approximately 8,300 kilometers. The biggest draw seems to the water temperature, they like it at about 28 degrees Celsius (or 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit), and calves born in warmer waters seem to grow faster and larger, and have a greater chance of breeding themselves. Anyway, you get the idea. Humpback whales really like Contadora. They start showing up in July of every year, and they will stay through the end of October, with stragglers hanging around through November or December.

    Dolphins First - Lots And Lots Of Dolphins: On the way out to Isla Contadora encountered a huge group of dolphins - about 300 or so. And that's no exaggeration. They were everywhere, and we were the only boat around. The dolphins would come up to our boat and play with our bow wave or tail wake. Some of the younger immature dolphins were jumping and slapping their tails, and I had lots of chances to get both video and photos. Sarah was thrilled. At one point the dolphins were swimming right next to the bow and Sarah had her head hung over the side. As the dolphins would come up for air they would blast some water up into her face - and she laughed with glee saying "he spit on me" - loving every minute of it. We drove around in circles for about a half an hour or so until we actually got tired of looking at dolphins, so continued on our way to Contadora to look for whales.

    This was the one photo I was able to get of a "breaching" baby whale. He was just learning how to do it, and playing. You can see the snow white flipper on his left side. This guy is only about two to three weeks old. Newborn calves are roughly the length of their mother's head. At birth, calves measure 20 feet (6.1 m) and weigh about 1.8 tons. The mother, by comparison, is about 50 feet long (15 m).

    The Elusive Deep Diver: Our first spotting was with a long whale. Our guide Beny spotted a tail off in the distance, which means a whale was about to dive deep, to feed. We went over there and waited around for about 15 minutes, hoping he would surface. After awhile we gave up and started back towards Contadora, and as we were leaving the "deep diver" surfaced. Took a breath of air, and then dove again. So we saw this guy twice, but only at a distance, and he was busy...

    As you can see in this drawing, humpback whales have the characteristic "bump" on the center of their heads and forward of their eyes, then the dorsal fin is located on their backs where the "hump" is located. In the video you will see first the bump, then the hump, then the dorsal fin as they come up for air.

    Newborn Alone On The Surface: As we were heading towards Contadora, we spotted a relatively small calf on the surface. According to Beny a baby that small was only a couple of weeks old. It was resting calmly on the surface, and we spotted him before he saw us. So we very slowly and gently eased our way over, not wanting to scare him. And we were all thinking the same thing - "where's mama?" After a few minutes as we got closer, eventually the little guy became aware of our presence and he probably called for mama. Within 30 seconds there she was on the surface. She positioned herself between us and her baby, naturally protective as all mothers are. We eased away and so did they, nice and calm all around. They would come up to the surface to breathe about every two minutes or so, and we were able to get some nice photos and video of this encounter. The guys at Whale Watching Panama do it the right way. They follow Panamanian rules, laws, regulations, and guidelines which you might be surprised to learn, actually exist. They are the only (and best) (and serious) Whale Watching outfit in Panama. However, there are knuckleheads out there...

    Dropping Snorkelers On Mama And Calf: Off in the distance we saw four local pangas in a tight group. Beny said those guys might be on a group of young males who like to "put on a show" by jumping out of the water and making huge splashes with their backs, so we headed over that way to see. But unfortunately it was another mother paired with her newborn calf. The boat drivers had been hired by tourists from Contadora (on a Saturday afternoon) and they were actually waiting until the whales would come up to breathe, then they would quickly motor very close to the whales, and the tourists would jump over the side wearing face masks and snorkels. They wanted to swim up close with the whales. Of course, this is illegal. It stresses out the whales. It's not a good thing. So, we grabbed some photos and video. I made sure to get enough details of the boats and their drivers. I also caught the GPS coordinates off of our boat's navigation gear. Once I get the photos and video from the rest of the people who were on the boat with us, I will be making a formal complaint with the Autoridad de los Recursos Acuáticos de Panamá (ARAP) (Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama). They are the ones who are supposed to regulate and enforce the conduct of this activity, and they are not doing their jobs. The rules and regulations are in place, but what is that worth if no one is enforcing those rules? Anyway, moving on...

    Time For Lunch: We went over to Contadora for lunch at a restaurant. Then we had about 30 minutes to swim on the beach and from the boat, before we headed back towards Panama City. All in all, it was a great trip. If you see eight humpback whales and about 300 dolphins on a trip like this, then it can only be categorized as a success. Right now is the "peak" of the migration season. Anne Gordon tells me that on some trips they have seen as many as 20 whales or more, in a single day. In short, they are all over the place, doing what they do. Lot's of fun, educational, well done, safe and sound, highly recommended.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

    • Facebook
    • Google Bookmarks
    View Printable Version

    Whale Watching in Panama - Book Your Trip Now, Before The Season Ends!

    Travel & TourismWhale Watching Panama has had an incredible Whale Watching season so far this year. We have found the humpback whales on 100% of our Pearl island tours from Panama city or the Pearl islands and whales 85% of our Panama city-Taboga island tours. During the months of July through mid October Panama is blessed with over 2,000 humpback whales who migrate from Antarctica to breed and give birth. The best months are August and September with the most whales. Last week on one trip we saw over 20 whales and several pods of dolphins.

    A friendly reminder if spending a day out on the water with the humpback whales and dolphins is on your bucket list, now is the time to book your trip before the whales leave our waters for 8 months. September is best, as you know, in October there are more rainy days and also choppy seas, and less whales.

    Due to a great success in also finding dolphins this season and having several magical swims with the dolphins coming to check us out, we will be offering Dolphin & Snorkel trips in the Pearl islands throughout the rest of the year. These trips will be as day trips from Panama city or from Contadora island. Stay tuned for more details.

    Contact me to book your whale watching tour before they head South in mid October.

    There are also many photos on our Facebook page.

    To book your whale watching trip in Panama, contact: Anne Gordon de Barrigón,, cell phone on Panama 6758-7600, or visit our web site

    • Facebook
    • Google Bookmarks
    View Printable Version

    Tourism To Panama Increasing - Could See 2.2 Million Visitors This Year

    Travel & TourismMore tourists have been arriving to visit Panama in the first seven months of the year, albeit at a slower pace compared to the reported increase in the same period last year. In total, between January and July more than 1.2 million tourists visited the country, or about 63,000 more than during the same period in 2011. This represents an increase of 5.4%.

    Although Panama continues attracting more tourists, the volume has not been sufficient to fill the 4,000 new hotel rooms that have been built in Panama City in recent years. This difference has caused hotel occupancy in the capital city to drop by 7% in the first half of this year. In order to maintain occupancy rates above 60%, hoteliers say tourists would have to register a growth of 15% monthly. This year it is estimated occupancy rates will fall 50%, especially in hotels with less than 100 rooms.

    As for average tourist spending, it is estimated that during the month of July tourists spent $1.315 billion dollars in Panama. When compared to the numbers of 2011, it shows an increase of $221.6 million dollars. This assessment made by the Comptroller General does not include the purchase of airline tickets.

    By country, the United States remains at the top of the table as the nation that brings more visitors to Panama, followed by Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina and Spain. While by geographical area, South America is the region that is bringing more tourists to the Panamanian market.

    Tocumen is still the main port of entry for tourists, although movement through Paso Canoa, on the border with Costa Rica, has rebounded this year. About 70% of tourists enter Panama through the Tocumen International Airport, while at the border there was an increase of 1.3%, after the decrease reported last year.

    By the end of 2012, authorities hope Panama will have received more than 2.2 million visitors, surpassing the 2 million reported last year. To increase the flow of visitors to the country, they are currently negotiating direct flights from Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil. The government is acting as a mediator between the South American operators and LCCs for the deal, which could begin in October. They are also establishing negotiations with the Spanish airline Iberia to enhance frequencies from that country. Currently Iberia takes five weekly flights to Panama. (Prensa)

    • Facebook
    • Google Bookmarks
    View Printable Version

    The Villas at Red Frog Beach Resort

    Travel & Tourism By: Betsy Arrocha - Bocas del Toro, August 2012 - Red Frog Beach located in Bocas del Toro offers guests the combination of luxury accommodations, an island rainforest landscape and some of the best beaches in Panama!

    See photos: click here

    Red Frog Beach is an island resort community a short boat ride from Bocas Town. The island is renowned for its beaches and biodiversity. Guests can experience incredible ocean views from the elevated hillside Villas or unwind on one of the several beaches. For those seeking an adventure while on vacation, there is much to do here: zipline, hiking trails, surfing, snorkeling, horseback riding, sailing cruise, fishing and other tours.

    Villa rental rooms start from $99/night and a complete private villa with pool from $250/night. (more)

    • Facebook
    • Google Bookmarks
    View Printable Version

    Rates to Guatemala and Panama get affordable

    Travel & TourismBy Clara Bosonetto For the AJC - A pair of special airfare rates from American Airlines to two popular Central American destinations are more affordable than a trip to California. So why not change up your next getaway and head south of the border at super affordable rates.

    For instance, a round-trip fare to Guatemala City, Guatemala is $338.40, inclusive of all taxes and fees (a round-trip ticket from ATL to Los Angeles is $353.60). This special price is valid on trips taken seven days a week, based on sale seat availability and through Nov. 15. To qualify, give a two-week or more advance notice of travel. A minimum stay of any two nights is required.

    A second destination on this sale is Panama City, Panama at $378.40 round-trip (round-trip airfare to Salt Lake City, Utah is $457.60).

    Additionally, these low rates are about $200 per round-trip less expensive than published rates on other carriers.

    This exclusive sale rate permits one free stopover in Miami en route to Central America. A stopover is considered four or more hours. It's become rare for airlines to offer the free stopover option. It's a nice way to get a two-for-one vacation (airport transfers, hotel, transportation and other expenses during the stopover are not included).

    American has filed an Aug. 27 ticket-by date on these offers, but don't fall for it. If you're interested, act now. I suspect this offer will expire sooner.

    Sale airfares are always subject to change. Every seat on every flight is not offered at the lowest rate. Since only a limited supply of seats is available, act quickly to make your purchase.

    I recommend starting the search for available seats at vs. calling an airline directly. You can also search for the sale at travel websites such as Expedia or Travelocity, etc.

    Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.

    • Facebook
    • Google Bookmarks
    View Printable Version

    The Strengths And Weaknesses of Isla Coiba

    Travel & TourismThe implementation of Management Plan for the Coiba National Park (CNP) is a very complex action because it requires the participation of all sectors involved. Within the Board there are some who have a vote, and other who only have a voice, which is why they lose interest in attending the meetings held from time to time in different parts of our country. The Management Plan of the Coiba National Park is the managerial guidance document that includes goals, standards, guidelines, possible uses, actions and strategies to be followed within the protected area, which is a Natural Heritage of Humanity, adopted by UNESCO. The comprehensive planning process developed involved the technical analysis of natural resources, consideration of the management category assigned to the protected area, the potential, and problems encountered with the dynamic participation of different stakeholders.

    Gradually implemented - Evidelio Adames, a member of the Board for the University of Panama and on behalf of the Regional University Center of Veraguas (CRUV), considered that the management plan is not implemented ideally, because the biggest obstacle is the lack of resources suitable for operation. The university professor said that thanks to the institutional effort by the PNC, which is very complex, it has the support of the National Environmental Authority (ANAM), Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP), Mar Viva Foundation, the University of Panama, the local mayors, the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP), and lately, the Naval Air Service (Senan), which maintains a naval base that contributes to the safety and security of the protected area, covering 537 km2 of land area and 2,024 km2 of sea surface.

    In addition, Senacyt provides resources and equipment for scientific research within this natural jewel on the Veragüense Pacific. Evaluation of the Management Plan will be made in 2014, five years after it has been implemented, to determine its strengths and weaknesses.

    Meanwhile, Santiago Rojas, a manager of PNC, said the 37 buoys are to protect the ecosystem to maintain the reefs in the different marine areas, which is why companies involved in the transfer of tourists for diving should moor their boats to these devices and avoid heavy anchors from touching the seabed.

    Data -

  • Annually about 7,700 tourists visit Coiba.
  • It is beautiful with pristine beaches, and if anyone dares, there are even nude beaches.
  • It has a naval base that cost nearly $2 million dollars to build.
  • There is water 24 hours a day.
  • There are 37 areas of diving and safety buoys for boats.
  • There are six cabins equipped for 12 people each.
  • There are several routes to reach this natural site: Puerto Mutis, Santa Catalina, Playa Banco, Mariato, and by plane from Santiago and Panamá.
  • The infrastructure dates back 40 years and every day it is deteriorating.
  • There are only eleven park rangers who alternate their shifts every 15 days for the ecological and marine patrol.
  • The park has an annual budget of only $60,000 dollars.
  • Tourists have to land on the beach because there is no dock.
  • The trails are neglected due to lack of maintenance. (Mi Diario)
  • Share
    • Facebook
    • Google Bookmarks
    View Printable Version

    Panama Should Create Tourism Schools

    Travel & TourismJaime Campuzano, President of the National Tourism Council, suggested today on the channel 2 TVN morning news program, that free public schools should be created in the interior of the country to teach Tourism, and the National Assembly should approve incentives for the development of tourism in these regions. Campuzano also recommended that high schools teaching tourism should emphasize the technical side (maids, bell boys) and the universities should focus their attention on hotel management. He believes that although Panamanians are cheerful and spontaneous by nature, they don't meet up with international standards. (TVN)

    Editor's Comment: I just got back from a trip to Costa Rica. As we came out of the airport we had to find a shuttle bus to take us to the rental car company. There were literally people tripping over themselves trying to help us. One guy broke out into a run (I looked for someone with a gun who might have been chasing him) but in fact he was going to a pay phone to call the cell phone of the shuttle bus driver, to get an update on his status, location, and how long we would have to wait. Every Panamanian who works in the tourism industry should simply take a trip to Costa Rica, to see how it "should" be done. Panamanians are only cheerful, happy, and spontaneous when they're drunk. The rest of the time they're grouchy, surly, angry, and generally unhappy. Those two chicks in the photo are in Costa Rica. See how happy they are? Yeah. More like that. Take notes...

    • Facebook
    • Google Bookmarks