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Thursday, April 24 2014 @ 04:42 PM EDT

Travel and Tourism

Thousands of tourists visit Panama every year from all over the world. There's a lot of stuff to see and do here. Near Panama City the top destinations are the Panama Canal, the ruins of Old Panama, and the Colonial Casco Viejo section of Panama City. Panama has beaches on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, world-class sport fishing, scuba diving, and is a mecca for bird watchers from around the world. You can zip-line through the jungle canopy in El Valle, taste the best coffee in the world in Boquete, or snorkel around perfect coral reefs in Bocas del Toro. From cosmopolitan Panama City to sleepy little one-horse towns in the middle of nowhere, every corner of Panama has something to offer tourists and visitors. In this section of Panama-Guide.com you will find all of those articles related to tourism and travel. If you require additional information about this or any other category of information regarding the Republic of Panama please take advantage of our powerful in-house search engine. And if you still can't find what you're looking for we even take requests! Welcome aboard, and please remember to tell your friends about Panama-Guide.com, the #1 English Language Website about the Republic of Panama. Salud.
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Public Ministry to launch campaign against sex tourism

Travel & TourismStarting next week the Public Ministry will launch a campaign to prevent sex tourism and child pornography, said Eiselys Vásquez, of the National Commission for the Prevention of Crimes of Sexual Exploitation.

He explained the initiative seeks to alert visitors that sexual intercourse with minors in Panama is a crime - subject to 15 years in prison for violators. The same goes for the distribution of child pornography. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Sexual tourism is one thing, child pornography is another. In Panama it's common for foreign women to come in from Colombia or the Dominican Republic, to prostitute themselves - mostly to other foreigners, especially gringos. The Panamanian government has traditionally looked the other way, because they like the tourism traffic. And generally speaking, they really don't care all that much because most of the prostitutes are not Panamanian women, although there are a fair number of them as well. For the most part, the only time they "crack down" on the women is when they want to try to squeeze them for bribes.

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Panama, Among The 11 Places To Go In 2014

Travel & TourismCNN issued an article called “11 places to go in 2014,” where Panama is mentioned in the list as one of the destinations to go to in 2014.

The journalist Tamara Hilton recommends Panama as a favorite destination to visit. She mentioned the Panama Canal’s 100-year anniversary in August, but said this was certainly not a top five reason for visiting the country in 2014.

Hilton said there are many other reasons to travel to Panama such as the volcanoes, rainforests, coffee plantations and beautiful beaches on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. (Estrella)

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Tourists Are Visiting Panama To Take Advantage Of Black Friday

Travel & TourismThe administrator of the Tourism Authority, Salomón Shamah, said a large amount of tourists came to Panama from different parts of Latin America to take advantage of the discounts on “Black Friday.”

The activity carried out together with Copa Airlines, according to Shamah, has increased in a 12% in contrast with previous years.

The administrator said every month they create different activities to motivate travelers to come to the country.

He said “Black Friday” might soon turn into “Black Week,” starting on Monday and ending on Sunday.

Approximately 30 thousand tourists might arrive in the next few days to take advantage of the different discounts at several stores in the city. (TVN)

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The Tourism Authority Has Started A Campaign Against Illegal Rentals

Travel & TourismThe Tourism Authority of Panama is putting up fliers around the Tocumen International Airport informing tourists that renting out apartments for less than 45 days in Panama is illegal.

These announcements will be placed at information desks in the ATP at the Tocumen International Airport, and at the taxi services desks.

The second step will be putting up banners and videos on other places frequently transited by tourists who enter the country through this airport.

The announcements are published with a specific logo stating that illegal rentals are banned by Law 80 from 8 November 2012.

The ATP is still studying this offense to design an efficient strategy to control it.

The Tocumen Airport is the main entrance to the country in the tourism sector. A total of 1,016,241 visitors have entered the country between January and August, representing an increase of 1.7% and 16,590 more tourists than in the same previous period. (Critica)

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New study confirms trend of growing tourism to Central America

Travel & Tourism SITCA, (the Secretariat of Central American Tourism Integration), together with the tourism authorities of the seven Central American countries - Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama - have conducted a study on the evolution of the tourism sector in the region over the past twelve years (2000-2012) and made a positive forecast of expected 6.1% growth for this year based on the results.

The study shows that, in the period between 2000 and 2012, tourism to Central America has grown by 122.8% from 4.23 million visitors in 2000 to 9.39 visitors in 2012, an annual increase of 7% on average.

The American continent is the main source of visitors to the region. Domestic tourism from within the region accounts for 40% of the total whereas North America brings between 35% and 40% of visitors. Europe and South America represent 10% of the total.

Costa Rica and Guatemala are the countries that received the highest number of visitors, but it is Nicaragua and Panama the ones that have registered the biggest growth in the period covered by the study, moving from 5th and 6th position (in terms of the total number of visitors received) to 4th and 3rd respectively.

The average spend by tourists has also grown considerably over the last twelve years, mainly thanks to an increase in the amount of products consumed, moving from an average spend per person of US$700 in 2000 to US$1016 in 2012.

FORECAST FOR 2013 - Based on the results of the study, it is expected that the number of visitors will increase by 6.1% this year compared to last year, with an expected total of 9.96 million visitors. According to this forecast, Costa Rica and Guatemala will be the two countries that will receive the highest number of visitors, with around 2 million each.

For 2013, the average spend per tourist is expected to reach US$1016.63, compared to US$1016.18 in 2012. Tourism revenue is expected to be highest in Panama and lowest in Nicaragua.

The data revealed by SITCA shows that the tourism sector in Central America is becoming a main source of revenue for all seven countries and a true motor for the economic growth of the region. (www.incentivetravel.co.uk)

Editor's Comment: Tourism has increased sharply in Panama over the time period covered by this report, mostly thanks to the implementation of the Torrijos-Carter treaty, the departure of the US military from Panama, and the return of democracy to Panama. In the 80's and 90's most Americans associated Panama with the dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega, and no one really saw or thought of Panama as a potential destination for tourism. Once democracy returned to Panama it took more than a decade for some infrastructure to be built (like the Decameron resort, for example) that would be of a quality to draw tourists to Panama. These days Panama sees more than 2 million tourists per year, which is not bad for a relatively small country with a population of 3.5 million. Those people leave behind a whole lot of money - making even more of an incentive to build even more infrastructure. There is now a "glut" of hotel rooms in Panama City, and developers are reaching out to build new resorts in places like the upper coast of the province of Colon, past Portobelo and out on the Caribbean - which is actually a much better beach than anything on the Pacific side. Anyway, more tourists and tourism dollars for Panama is a good thing. And we're now halfway through September. Once the temperatures start dropping up North, then people start to turn their attentions towards the South, and to seek out destinations where they can thaw out and avoid the snow and ice...

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San Blas: One Island For Every Day

Travel & Tourism

The newspaper El Espectador from Colombia published information on San Blas. In the note they talk about the incredible potential of the island and how it has been highly exploited through tourism.

The article says the following:

Between the sky, the sea and the sand from San Blas, there is a timeless paradise, drawn between corals and infinite blue waters. Each island receives its visitors with majestic landscapes ideal for holidays, adventure and art.

The archipelago of San Blas is located in the northern coast of the country, to the east of the Panama Canal. 49 of its islands belong to the Guna indigenous people who have their own authorities and laws since 1925. 78 years later they keep their culture pristine, giving the opportunity to tourists to know their simple lifestyle and enjoy the experience of spending a night in a “bohio” (small hut).

The beaches surrounded by coral reefs, some of them the oldest in the world, are perfect for snorkeling, diving and kayak. In the heart of the indigenous community, women, who wear jewelry garnished with geometric patterns of bright colors, long skirts, gold rings in their nose and necklaces, sell the visitors blouses made with “molas;” pieces of colorful fabric that outweigh and reflect the worldview of the Gunas and their spiritual lives.

Besides the fabrics, the economy of the island fully depends on fishing and selling coconut. In the Guna region, there are many touristic destinations, most of them focused on ecotourism (part of them in Carti and in the region of Ailigandi). Even though San Blas is a hot destination, whoever wants to visit the archipelago must be authorized by the leader of the tribe before they spend a night at the place.

Among the most visited islands are Achutupu, Kagantupu, Yandup and Coco Blanco, perfect for sunbathing and appreciating majestic formations of coral reefs and a wide variety of fish. Besides, you have the option of touring with the fishing boats from Colon to have your breath taken away by the landscapes.

Annually, approximately 100 thousand tourists come to this place from all around the world who want to experience how is it to live in the past but in the present, enjoying the nature of each and every island and enjoy the perfect environment for contemplation and meditation.

Weather
Hot; temperatures are relatively high (87 ºF) and slightly change over the year.

Area code
+507

How to get there
You can get there in 30 minutes by flying through Air Panama, who takes you from the Marcos A. Gelabert Airport in Albrook, until El Porvenir island in the region.

Where to sleep
Ukuptupu huts, five minutes away from the El Porvenir airport in San Blas.
www.ukuptupu.com
Kuanidup huts, located in the area of Rio Sidra in the islands of San Blas, they are one hour away (travelling by sea) from El Porvenir.
www.kuanidup.com

Don’t miss
The Isla Tigre fair from October 7 to October 10, to commemorate the moment when the Gunas revealed against the Panamanian authorities. They do crafts, agricultural and touristic samples.

What to eat
Lobster with rice and coconut with chicken in marinade, served cold.

Plans
You must go to Isla Naciente to do snorkeling or diving.
Visit Isla Caledonia to know about the culture and dances of the Gunas.
Enjoy the beaches and relax while you are in contact with nature. (Critica)

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Hundreds Of Tourists Stuck In The Border With Costa Rica

Travel & TourismHundreds of tourists wishing to enter or leave Panama through its border with Costa Rica were very upset due to the poor conditions they face to have their documents stamped to enter or exit the country.

Tourists from different nationalities said they had to wait over seven hours until they were assisted, because there are only two officers working and the system kept going down all the time.

"The system is down," is what they were saying every minute, said Jazmin Castillo, foreign from Costa Rica who was very upset for having to wait so long.

"There are no restrooms, they have us packed like animals in these long lines, with a very poor customer service and lack of staff to speed up the process,” said Ana Lorena Madrigal, a Costa Rican woman who said she was waiting since five o'clock on Saturday.

Another U.S. citizen said she was “very angry, upset and impatient," and said she is leaving Panama with a bad impression.

The only members of the staff present at the place were the two officials providing the service, who said they are not authorized to give statements.

They did say they had problems with the Internet and the long lines were due to the amount of people going in and out from Panama on Saturday to go on different trips. (TVN)

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Panama Invests Over 870 Million Dollars In Airport Infrastructure

Travel & TourismThe Government of Panama invests 877.7 million dollars in the construction, expansion and remodeling of airports, including Tocumen, the country's largest airport, in which 8 million people go through every year.

The Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) reported the millionaire investment “seeks to place the country in the main port of access and transit of the continent” through the “hub of the Americas."

The Hub relies on Copa Airlines, the local private airline, which covers 64 destinations in 29 countries with a fleet of 78 Boeing and Ebraer aircrafts, said the government source in a statement.

The Panamanian government also aims to promote the "tourism boom in the country,” which was reflected in Panama in the year 2012 after a total of 2.08 million tourists arrived and left 2,216 million dollars, according to official data.

The International Airport of Tocumen was built in the 1970s with a capacity for 1.5 million passengers; it was then expanded with the construction of a northern pier, a two-story building of 21,000 square meters and 12 gates, with a total investment of $100 million and has already started operations.

A southern pier is currently under construction, and it is expected to start operations next year, with an investment of 674 million dollars which will help the Tocumen Airport increase its capacity to 18 million passengers, and will position it as "the second largest airport of Latin America."

Currently, the international airport of Mexico City and Sao Paulo (Brazil) are considered the two largest airports, receiving over 26 million people per year.

In Panama's Atlantic coast the new airport Enrique Jimenez is being built, with an investment of 58,3 million dollars, which will serve the city of Colon, city in which the most important Free Zone of the continent is located, and the second largest of the world after Hong Kong.

"This work will make the Colon Free Zone continue in its position of being a tax free area of import and export with great advantages,” said the ATP through its public relations office.

There is also another airport under construction in Rio Hato, Cocle, which is the Scarlet Martinez. This is located to the southeast of the country, and is aimed to benefit the flow of foreign tourists and locals of this area. (Dia A Dia)

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Red Frog Beach Rainforest Resort - Special Offer

Travel & Tourism Discover this unique island oasis and enjoy one night complimentary, including breakfast on the beach each morning, when you book 5 nights by August 31 and stay by December 19, 2013.

Bocas del Toro – Take advantage of the resort’s special offer and enjoy one night “on the house” when you book five nights by August 31 and stay by December 19, 2013.

The Red Frog Beach Resort is located in the beautiful Caribbean archipelago of Bocas del Toro, off the scenic northern coast of Panama.

Red Frog Beach features miles of lush rainforest, an adjacent national marine park, outstanding recreational activities and, of course, a spectacular island location with several fabulous beaches including its namesake beach—designated as “One of the World’s Best Secret Beaches” by The Travel Channel and “One of the Hottest Beaches in Central America” by Frommer’s Travel.

Tucked within the resort’s unspoiled natural beauty are its luxurious accommodations, Bocas del Toro’s finest.

The upscale Villas have two to six bedroom floor plans, private pools and sweeping ocean views.

The Jungle Lodge is an authentic, eco-friendly accommodation set inside a secluded Jungle Village.

The Inn at Red Frog Beach allows guests to stay in a private room in a large shared Villa at the top of the island.

The hill-top Honeymoon King Suite has an infinity edge pool with lush garden surroundings and fabulous views of the turquoise blue Caribbean below.

All the accommodations feature direct access to the beaches, stunning nature paths, and an activity center.

Guests arrive at the resort via a 10 minute water-taxi ride from Bocas town that glides around mangrove ecosystems and puts in next to the beautiful yachts at the Red Frog Marina. From there, guests pick up the keys to their own electric Jungle Cart that can be used to quietly explore the island oasis during their stay.

Accommodations include daily Jungle Cart use:

  • The Villas; Two to six bedroom floor plans from $365/night

  • The Jungle Lodge; from $235/night

  • The King Honeymoon Suite; from $285/night

  • The Inn at Red Frog Beach; King and Queen Suites from $195/night

Other resort amenities include a beachfront bar & grill and activity center, picturesque IGY marina for sailors and mega-yachts, a new Spa just feet away from a stunning waterfall (set to be completed this fall) and a Zip Line Canopy Tour.

Discover the island’s unique biodiversity while gently soaring through the rainforest canopy or hiking its expansive scenic trails that lead to secluded beaches.

Resort guests encounter playful Capuchin monkeys, slow-moving tree sloths, squawking parrots and hundreds of other bird species, giant morpho butterflies, vibrantly colorful frogs and other indigenous wildlife.

More adventurous visitors can rent surfboards, snorkeling equipment or boogie boards right on the resort beach.

Rounding out the opportunities to explore are many boat tours offered in Bocas — including the unforgettable underground island cave tour.

“Our guests like the wide variety of activities and beautiful scenery we have here,” said Red Frog marketing associate Jarisa Garcia. “Nowhere else in Panama will you find such an abundant rainforest coupled with some of the best, white-sandy beaches in Central America.”

For more information about Red Frog Beach or to book your vacation, visit www.redfrogbeach.com, call 1-888-655-9573 or 507-836-5501 or e-mail info@redfrogbeach.com

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The Airline Air France Announces New Route Between Paris And Panama

Travel & TourismThe French-Dutch airline Air France-KLM announced today they will open on November 25 a new route between Paris and Panama, with a frequency of three flights per week.

This is the 25th destination of the company in Central America, South America and the Caribbean, said the company in a statement.

The three weekly flights will be operated from the airport Paris-Charles de Gaulle, with Boeings 777-200 equipped with 309 seats, said the company.

"This new route will complement the offer of KLM which already has a daily flight from Amsterdam-Schiphol and will offer customers of Air France and KLM even more connections, thanks to the Copa Airlines hub at the airport in Panama City-Tocumen, and in particular to Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala and Nicaragua," he added.

The opening of the Paris-Charles de Gaulle-Panama City route was possible "thanks to the support and cooperation of the government of Panama, including the Minister of Tourism Salomon Shamah," said the airline.

France-KLM believes the economic expansion of Panama "is supported by major projects such as the expansion of the canal in 2015 and the construction of the Panama City metro in 2014, as well as tourism development."

He also recalled that "over 80 multinational companies have set up their headquarters for their activities in Central and South America and the Caribbean." (Panama America)

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