The intense campaign of international promotion of Panama, the new alliance with China and the eve of the World Youth Day (WYD) are the key that the authorities foresee, prop up tourism, which grew 3% until September 2018 despite the economic slowdown.
The growth of one digit in a country accustomed to the fact that the industry without chimneys expanded above ten percent and because "weighs" 10% of the Gross Domestic Product draws attention.
This sector, which managed to take off years ago with a good step in terms of investments and multiple innovative products, aims to captivate the new markets that look to the nation as a diverse destination.
To the traditional offer of sun and beach were added attractions such as the Coffee Circuit in the western lands of Chiriqui -zone of grain par excellence-, the opening of agrotouristic farms and the expected day of mega discounts in stores, all spread through a strategy of digital marketing abroad.
It is directed in large part to very specific markets such as Germany, Argentina, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, the United States, Spain and France.
One of the destinations that aims to attract more travelers is China, which after the new diplomatic relations has led to the inauguration of the first direct flight of Air China that connects the cities of Beijing and Panama and obtain the Statute of Authorized Destination (EDA). ).
China, considered in the ranking of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) as one of the largest emitters abroad and those who spend more, is outlined for Panama that next year 10,000 adventurers will be involved to discover the riches of the Central American nation .
According to figures from the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP), 1,821,657 visitors arrived in the country from January to September, which was reflected in a 2.8 percent decrease compared to the same period of 2017, that is, 52,206 less people
As for the expenditure made during his stay in Panama, which was estimated at 3,611.3 million dollars, which meant an increase of 3.0 percent over the same period of the previous year and an absolute variation of 104.3 millions of dollars.
For full figures in 2017, 2.5 million foreign tourists arrived in the country, spending 4,451 million dollars, which represented a 5.8 percent increase with respect to 2016.
The Government's goal is to reach three million tourists in 2019, and five million in 2024.
For this reason, this year the Panamanian President, Juan Carlos Varela, signed the internal regulations of the International Tourism Promotion Fund, whose budget consists of 20 million dollars per year, to facilitate the policies and projects of that sector in the country.
This plan, which is carried out in a public-private alliance, leads to the reconstruction of the tourist offer in an integral and parallel way to its international promotion, which was abandoned in previous years.
Another safe bet of occupation in all the tourist sectors in the realization of the World Youth Day, which will be from January 22 to 27 with the participation of Pope Francis.
At the beginning of the year, representatives of the Panamanian Hotel Association (APATEL) declared that this event would be a relief to the loss of more than 25,000 jobs and the low hotel occupancy that scratched at that time 45 percent.
"There are 30,000 rooms of lodging in the country to accommodate visitors, although many of the young pilgrims will stay in houses and schools," a union spokesperson told Efe.
The truth is that the country is preparing for the religious activity that awaits the arrival of half a million people, including pilgrims, priests, nuns and journalists.
Although the investments granted to prepare the WYD, for about 45 million dollars, are questioned by a large part of the population, Panama will have only one opportunity to face the challenges that lie ahead to be recognized or not as a country that It can give a renewed image to the traditional tourism of sun and beach, besides being able to handle massive encounters.