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Saturday, July 26 2014 @ 03:14 PM EDT

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National Crafts Fair Opens at Atlapa

Travel & TourismThe XXXV National Crafts Fair was opened yesterday at the ATLAPA convention center by the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ricardo Quijano. The organization of the show has cost approximately $200,000 and approximately 1,200 artisans are participating from around the country. The National Director of Handcrafts of the MICI, Damaris Delgado de Tribaldos, said the activity will have 500 tables, 65 workshops, 22 craft stalls for consumption, with 15 vendors selling food and another 43 food sites located in the lobby. It is expected that about 45 thousand people will visit the fair. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: This is always one of the "coolest" shows at ATLAPA every year. You can find all kinds of stuff there, made by talented hands. You'll see some stuff you're probably already familiar with like molas, and some other stuff you've never seen before. If anyone knows the hours, please post in the comments section. Thanks.

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52% OFF Banana's Village Resort, Isla Grande

Travel & TourismOfertaSimple.com always features amazing deals on local Panama restaurants, hotels, and activities. Today, there's a special treat in store for those of you looking for a pure Caribbean escape. Enjoy a beautiful ocean view room with balcony, breakfast and welcome cocktail at Banana's Village Resort on Isla Grande at 52% OFF. Banana's Resort is located just 90 minutes from the city, but is a true world apart.

Click here to view the offer: www.ofertasimple.com

As always, OfertaSimple is available in English as well as in Spanish. The customer service team is bilingual and is happy to help answer any and all questions related to the deals. Purchase these deals now and use anytime over the next 3-6 months, depending on the offer.

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Panama Travel Unlimited - One Of Panama's Leading Tour and Travel Agencies

Travel & Tourism
Dog Island in the San Blas Archipelago
Dog Island in the San Blas Archipelago
Panama Travel Unlimited opened it’s door’s less than a year ago and has fast become one of Panama’s leading tour and travel agencies. After spending a number of years living, working and owning businesses in the Panamanian tourism sector two expats, Will from Wales and Stuart from Australia, noticed there was a real need for a full service tour and travel agency providing the quality and levels of customer service foreign visitors to Panama expect while maintaining reasonable prices. Panama Travel Unlimited initially opened offering a budget friendly Panama City airport shuttle service and from there started operating day tours in and around Panama City to some of Panama’s premier tourist attractions such as the Panama Canal, Casco Viejo, Portobelo, Isla Grande, Fuerte San Lorenzo, El Valle and the beautiful Pacific coast beaches. Once the Panama City shuttle service and Panama Pity day tours were up and running the next logical step was to develop tours in the beautiful San Blas islands of Panama. (more)
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New Ferry Between Colon and Cartagena Will Increase Tourism

Travel & Tourism
New Ferry From Colon Panama to Cartagena Colombia Nissos Rodos Main Cabin
New Ferry From Colon Panama to Cartagena Colombia Nissos Rodos Main Cabin
A new way to promote tourism in Panama is the ferry trip to Cartagena in Colombia, said the Administrator of the Tourism Authority of Panama, Solomon Shamah. According to Shamah, the ferry has a capacity for 1,600 passengers, 250 cars at a cost of $ 99 per person. (See Comment) Shamah added the ferry will leave from the Port of Colon 2000 and will travel to the port of Cartagena in Colombia. "I do not know the exact days when trips will be taken, but it will go three times a week," he said on News AM. On another issue, Shamah said they have already approved the act for the construction of a new convention center, and they asked for some changes so that most companies can participate in the bidding. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The posted price is $99 per seat, but there will be additional taxes of about $95 dollars, bringing the most basic seat up to about $194 round trip - still cheaper than an airplane. You will depart from Colon at about 6:00 pm and arrive just after dawn the next morning in Cartagena. All seats are round-trip. The following was posted to the Americans in Panama Yahoo email group:

  • "The new ferry has a hotel, bar, stores, a theater, two restaurants, as well as a lobby and open areas to enjoy. The departures are from Colon on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and from Cartagena on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Only round trip tickets can be purchased - it's not possible to buy a one-way ticket. Reservations are valid for 48 hours until payment is made. Food and beverages are not included in the price of the ticket. Meals can be requested for an additional $40 per person, which is additional to the ticket fare, and it includes a dinner and breakfast buffet both ways for this price. It is very important to point out when you board the ferry you must leave a $50 deposit, money that can be used at the bar or the store on-board. Children under 2 years of age only pay the taxes - those aged three and above pay the regular fare. Travel documents required are: for Panamanians, a current passport with at least 6 months validity. For foreign residents, a current passport and immigration card according to law. Foreign tourists; current passport and immigration status according to law (economic solvency at the time of entering Panamanian territory and an airplane ticket back to Colombia). Luggage: two suitcases per person with a maximum weight of 50 pounds each. If the luggage weights more than 50 pounds there will be a charge of $35 dollars to be paid at the port. The Ferry has three different options: Cabins, Dorms (standard, deluxe, suite or presidential suite) and Pullman Seats (coach, standard, deluxe) according to the fares. Payment can be made with check, cash, or credit card. A 3% surcharge will be added if payment is made with a credit card.
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Now Tourists From 36 Countries No Longer Need Visas To Enter Panama

Travel & TourismThey can now come for fun or to do business. Tourists from 36 countries can now enter Panama without having to first obtain a visa, thanks to Executive Decree 326 of May 8, 2012 published in Official Gazette. Foreigners from these countries can now enter Panama as tourists, and they only need to apply for a Tourist Card from the National Immigration Service, which will cost $50 dollars. The countries benefiting from this decree were: Angola, Armenia, Belarus, Botswana, Kingdom of Bhutan, Cape Verde, Cambodia, Comoros, Croatia, Fiji, Gabon, Georgia, Marshall Islands Salmon, Kiribati, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Namibia, Nauru, Palau, Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Independent State of Samoa, Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Seychelles, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Vanuatu and Vietnam. (Critica)

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Boquete Family Escape: Cabañas El Parador 53% OFF

Travel & TourismFor the next 7 days, OfertaSimple.com (available in both English and Spanish) is offering 53% OFF the ultimate family getaway –the Orchid cabaña at Cabañas El Parador, Boquete. Buy now and redeem anytime over the next 6 months. Sleeps up to eight comfortably.

OfertaSimple.com launched just over a year ago and is quickly building a dedicated following in Panama. With offers never less than 50% off and at times inching towards 90% off, it’s no surprise the website already counts 126,000 Facebook fans and tens of thousands of members as loyal users. Past deals have included over 50% off at Royalton Resort, Playa Blanca Resort, Restaurante LaMar, Os Segredos Da Carne, Canal & Bay Cruises, Maná concert tickets, and Hotel Mandarinos in El Valle, to name a few.

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Panama Is The Top Travel Destination For Costa Rican Tourists

Travel & Tourism By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - An article appearing on the Inside Costa Rica website today says the majority of Costa Rican tourists selected Panama as their travel destination. According to the article, "Of the 717,000 Costa Ricas who left the country last year, many headed for Panama, according to the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) and the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (immigration service). The figures show that 208,400 or 30% headed south to Panama." See the full article at: Panama Top Destination For Costa Ricans

Tourism in Panama Continues To Grow: Last year Panama saw more than 2 million tourists for the first time. Panama's tourism authorities continue to work to attract new visitors from every conceivable market. And the Panama tourism market will also be getting a big boost this year, thanks to a recent change implemented by the IRS. See: US Companies Can Now Write Off Expenses For Conventions and Seminars Held In Panama (IRS). And it's somewhat ironic that Costa Rican citizens are coming to Panama as tourists, because the two countries basically compete as relatively similar destinations for international tourists. Tourism in Costa Rica has traditionally been much more developed than in Panama, a trend which is changing. And if Costa Ricans are coming to Panama as tourists, then what does that tell you?

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

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Panama Locations And Backdrop For Sports Illustrated 2012 Swimsuit Edition

Travel & TourismBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Sports Illustrated recently released the 2012 Swimsuit Edition. They also released this video showing some of the behind the scenes activity of the photo shoots on locations throughout Panama, in the San Blas islands and in Panama City. This of course will be more positive exposure for Panama as a tourist destination.

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

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Panama Cruise Season Closing Out With 100% Occupancy

Travel & TourismRoyal Caribbean's "Grandeur of the Seas" and Pullmantur's "Horizon" are the two cruise ships that have sailed throughout the season from Home Port Colon 2000, with 100% occupancy. The "Horizon", which can handle 1,828 passengers, leaves on Fridays and will end its program on 9 March. Meanwhile, the "Grandeur of the Seas" has a capacity for 2,426 passengers departing on Sundays, will continue until 15 April.

High demand - These two cruisers launched an offer to the Latin American market, but there has been a high demand among tourists from Canada and Finland who have arrived to Panama in charter flights. Augusto Terracina of Colon Port 2000 said the operation's success is due to Copa Airlines' Hub, and the growth of Panama as a destination. "Copa has direct flights to major cities across the continent," he said. South America has become a big market for Panamanian tourism and cruise ships also feature among them.

Expand supply - Terracina said operating with 100% occupancy is pushing Royal Caribbean to bring in a bigger cruise ship for future seasons. For now, the "Horizon" restarts its season on Nov. 30 then will continue throughout the year 2013, which means there will be year-round cruises departing from Panama. Lyany Caballero from the company Grand Tour, said the market has responded very well. "We had a great season with all the spaces sold and demand continues to grow," he said. To catch a cruise in Panama a visa is not required and Panama is easily accessible by air. Experts state the operation of the Home Port Colon 2000 helps hotel occupancy, because more than 3,500 passengers arrive per week and they extend their trips by booking hotel rooms. There is already interest from other cruise lines to depart from Colon.

Prices - If you are interested in enjoying a well deserved vacation and the idea is to celebrate on a cruise, there is still time to buy your ticket. To give you an idea and you place your budget, the itinerary of the "Grandeur of the Seas" of Royal Caribbean, which starts on March 18 from the port of Colon 2000 and includes a stop in destinations such as Cartagena, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and returns back to Columbus, is at $533 (inside cabin) and $753 (balcony cabin), not including taxes. (Dia a Dia)

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Tourism Still Growing, But Not As Fast As Last Year

Travel & TourismThe influx of tourists to the country in January posted a slower growth rate than last year. In January 2012, 234,050 visitors entered the country, 13,248 more than in January 2011 or a growth of 6%. However, this growth represents a decrease of six percentage points compared to growth between January 2010 and January 2011 which reached 12%.

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)

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