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Tuesday, July 17 2018 @ 01:25 PM EDT

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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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Aeroperlas Shuts Down - As Of Today

Travel & TourismThe Aeroperlas domestic airline suspended operations in Panama starting this Wednesday, 29 February 2012, due to a total redesign of their business model, based on trends and current market conditions in Panama, according to a press release. "The suspension process is performed in compliance with current legislation," said a press release from the company. This also includes the sectors related to operations: suppliers, distribution channels, employees and customers. As for their employees, Aeroperlas, which belongs to the Avianca-Taca group, has already started the process of indemnification, while in the case of their customers the airline said anyone who has purchased a ticket who has not yet traveled will be reimbursed.

CANCELLATIONS - Users of the airline - which began operations in 1969 - can communicate with Aeroperlas representatives by phoning 378-6000 to learn more about the status of their respective cases, and to come to an agreement on the payment of the reimbursement process. Travelers who have already started on their trips (those who have used the first half of a round trip ticket) should also contact the airline by telephone.

Leaving The Market - Aeroperlas operated from the Marcos A. Gelabert airport located in Albrook, Panama City, and flew to the provinces of Chiriqui, Bocas del Toro and Contadora Island, with a connection to international flights from the Tocumen International Airport. According to company reports, in 2011 they carried 113,222 passengers and in 2010 they carried 110,979 passengers, representing a slight increase of 2.02%. Until today there were only two domestic airlines operating in Panama - Aeroperlas and Air Panama. The Civil Aviation Authority reported that the transportation of passengers grew by 7.33% in 2011, after having reported a decline of 11% in the previous year.

In the statement announcing their decision, Aeroperlas said, without elaborating, that "we hope that, in unity with the judgment of the authorities, that we can - in the future - design a new model of operations that contributes to the economic exchange, social and cultural development of the Republic of Panama." (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Interesting. Well, someone else is probably going to step in to pick up the slack. Air Panama will obviously benefit from Aeroperlas' decision to suspend their operations, and now Air Panama is the lone provider in the domestic market. Fewer choices and options is usually a bad thing for customers and travelers - it would be better to have a few different companies offering service, rather than just one. At this point there's not enough information available to know the "why" Aeroperlas decided to shut down, but I'm sure that information will come peculating up over time. In the very near term it's probably going to be tough to get tickets on Air Panama flights, until they can make some adjustments to pick up the slack, and to carry the 10,000 passengers per month or so that Aeroperlas was doing before they shut down. So the end result is that anyone who wants to travel via air inside of the Republic of Panama to David, Bocas del Toro, or anywhere else, should make their reservations as far in advance as possible.

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New "Hop On, Hop Off" Tourists Bus Service in Panama City

Travel & TourismA new type of tourist bus service will be circulating around Panama City in order to provide visitors with a special tour, making the trip unique, comfortable and different. Roxana Mendez, Mayor of Panama, was the guest of honor at the presentation of the bus that crossed the coastal strip, with journalists, company employees, executives and special guests. Mayor Mendez said this new service adds a value to the city that will now allow tourists to see the city at a glance, and moving them in a safe manner. She said her office is working with the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) to help improve the face of the capital city. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: This is the new "hop on, hop off" bus service, double decker open air tourist buses that will be rotating through the most popular tourist destinations in the city. The existing bus routes don't lend themselves well to use by tourists because they are primarily designed for commuters. Good idea. What's it cost? I dunno... I hope they have a security guard on board the bus, or the maleantes are going to see this as a golden opportunity to rob money packing tourists. Like, hop on (steal some money and cameras and stuff), hop off, run like hell.

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"How Far Is It From Santa Clara to the Church of the Golden Altar?

Travel & Tourism By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received this morning via email: "we are staying at the sheraton bijao how far from the resort to The Golden Altar of the Church of San Jose. Just wodering as we plan on going into Panama for some shopping. any info you can provide would be most helpful."

Editor's Comment: The Golden Altar of the Church of San Jose is located in downtown Panama City, in the Casco Viejo area. You are in the Sheraton Biajo beach resort in Santa Clara. It will take about an hour and a half to drive to Panama City, and then once you are in the city to navigate down to Casco Viejo to see the Golden Altar. Once you're in the city it's an easy jump via taxi. All of the cab drivers know where that one is, because it's on the menu for tourists. Good luck. Check the link above for more details and maps on the location of the church.

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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Gorgona Community Board Charging $2 Per Car To Enter Beaches

Travel & TourismThe Gorgona Community Board established a fee to enter the beaches, money that will be used for maintenance on the site. The measure does not satisfy everyone. The decision of the Gorgona Community Board to charge $2.00 per car and $5.00 for small buses or vans to enter the beaches has generated mixed reactions among visitors. Although the money will be used to clean the beaches, some believe that if they charge they should provide certain benefits, which currently do not exist. Others understand the measure and they perceived it as fair, because visitors only litter the place. During this weekend police roadblocks were established at the entrance to Gorgona to avoid problems among visitors. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: I would go the whole nine yards. I would not mind paying an established fee to enter any public beach area, as long as there were security guards in the parking lots, fresh water showers (clean) to rinse off the salt water and sand before you get back into your car, bathrooms, trash cans for garbage, if the beaches were clean and litter free, etc. I would suggest that the government of Panama could provide the "seed money" to build these facilities in places like Gorgona, and then the local community board can collect and manage the fees to hire the employees, to the maintenance (I know, try not to laugh), etc. Hey, it's not a perfect world, but there's nothing wrong with trying to make it a little better, right? I would even pay a daily use fee for a bohio or something to get out of the sun, lifeguards, etc.

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Panama #1 Destination - NYT 45 Best Places To Go in 2012

Travel & TourismThe 45 Places to Go in 2012 - by Justin Mott for The New York Times - 1. Panama: Go for the canal. Stay for everything else. It’s been 12 years since Panama regained control of its canal, and the country’s economy is booming. Cranes stalk the skyline of the capital, Panama City, where high-rises sprout one after the next and immigrants arrive daily from around the world. Among those who have landed en masse in recent years are American expatriates and investors, who have banked on Panamanian real estate by building hotels and buying retirement homes. The passage of the United States-Panama free trade agreement in October is expected to accelerate this international exchange of people and dollars (the countries use the same currency).

Among the notable development projects is the Panama Canal itself, which is in the early stages of a multibillion-dollar expansion. The project will widen and deepen the existing canal and add two locks, doubling the canal’s cargo capacity. For those who want to see the waterway as it was originally designed, now is the time. The expansion is expected to be completed by 2014, the canal’s 100-year anniversary.

Other high-profile projects include the construction of three firsts: The Panamera, the first Waldorf Astoria hotel in Latin America (set to open in June 2012); the Trump Ocean Club, the region’s tallest building, which opened last summer; and Frank Gehry’s first Latin American design, the BioMuseo, a natural history museum scheduled to open in early 2013. Even Panama City’s famously dilapidated historic quarter, Casco Viejo, has been transformed. The neighborhood, a tangle of narrow streets, centuries-old houses and neo-colonial government buildings, was designated a Unesco World Heritage site in 1997 and is now a trendy arts district with galleries, coffeehouses, street musicians and some of the city’s most stylish restaurants and boutique hotels.

Across the isthmus, on Panama’s Caribbean coast, the Bocas del Toro archipelago has become a popular stop on the backpacker circuit, with snorkeling and zip lining by day and raucous night life after dark. FREDA MOON.

Editor's Comment: To see the full article as it appeared in the New York Times and the other 44 destinations that are not as cool as Panama, click this link. Panama has been getting more and more attention as a tourist destination in the mainstream media in the United States this year. Panama saw more than 2 million tourists in 2011 - the first time the "2 million" barrier was broken. Tourism is very important for the local economy, with tourists leaving behind billions of dollars of spending on hotel rooms, rental cars, restaurants and eating out, tourism services, and trips such as fishing, scuba diving, boats, or zip lines through the jungle canopy. Panama seems to be growing up as fast as it can, but there are still fundamental problems to be addressed (see the earlier article about a woman who fell through a manhole cover after eating dinner at a restaurant.) Anyway, I hope all of those people who will be coming to Panama as tourists find this website as part of their explorations and preparations to visit. Come on down, the water's fine...

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Source Videos for NBC Piece Today ... Panama - Where The World Meets

Travel & Tourism By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received this afternoon via email: "hey don i saw your post about the NBC cover on panama for 2012. i found out where those clips came from and thought you might enjoy seeing them if you haven't already. it got me excited, i hope to go back soon. any ways here are some of the links. i'm not sure if these advertisements are from the government or a traveling agency."

Editor's Comment: Very cool. Well done, professionally made promotional videos. Fun to watch, visually pleasing, generally accurate. Great stuff. Thanks. And for all you tourists out there - yes, it's true. There really are hot chicks in bikinis running around all over the place. I tripped over three of them going to lunch today. It's amazing ... wildlife. In the first video right when the voice-over says Panama is a "land of amazing wildlife" the video cuts from a breaching humpback whale to the hot chick in the purple bikini. I love it. Perfect. How about "Panama - where the world comes together." Nah, that's OK, ladies first (grin). And I always wondered where Larry met Carmen. Now, I know.









Copyright 2011 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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