Panama Promotes Tourism Initiatives

Miami, Fl., May 12, 2011 – Panama has become a tourist threshold for the Central American region, attracted by the energy of its capital, natural beauty and wide travel connections, considered “the hub” of Central America.

From the 11th to 13th of May, Panama will be participating in Expotur 2011, an exhibition organized by the Costa Rican Association of Tourism Professionals. A large group of tour operators, airlines, hotel chains and tourist destinations will promote their services and specific products for audiences such as, destination weddings and honeymoons, water activities and many more. This event provides an important platform for advocacy in the Central American region, highlighting the different attributes of each country and brand participating.

Panama will continue to promote during Expotur the multiple offers and initiatives that the country is developing to promote their tourism. The Tourism Authority of Panama and Copa Airlines have initiated the "Stop Over" campaign. This gives travelers who are in transit to other destinations with Copa Airlines the possibility of stopping in Panama City at no additional charge, with special rates for hotel and tourist activities.

According to IATA, Panama has been ranked the eighth most important international aviation hub as the country's GDP. Tocumen International Airport receives more than eighty direct routes that serve a large influx of leisure tourists and business travelers. The most recent ones will be to Toronto, Canada; Porto Alegre, Brazil and Nassau, Bahamas. These last three will be launched in June, 2011.Panama has also increased their air connectivity with Europe, with direct flights from Madrid to Panama City with Iberia airlines. KLM and Condor Airlines are flying six times a week. These way European travelers can now visit one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the region, as well unparalleled ecotourism experiences.

One of Panama’s most innovative initiatives in 2011 is a medical insurance for tourists in case of emergency. All tourists as well as Panamanians living abroad will receive medical insurance with top level coverage in case of emergency during the first thirty days of their stay. The insurance policy will cover accidental death (up to $20,000 dollars), hospitalization and medical expenses for injuries due to accidents or in case of contracting a disease in Panama (up to $7,000 dollars), expenses for dental emergency (up to $ 2,000 dollars), administrative legal assistance by accident (up to $ 3,500), and lost or stolen documents, among others. The policy does not however cover incidents caused by negligence, those related to alcohol and drugs, such as those caused by extreme sports.

The economic and tourism growth that Panama has experienced last year has positioned it in a privileged spot. The country’s economy grew a 6.2% from 2009 to 2010. Tourism has also influenced this growth in an important way. From January to December, 2010 it grew a 10.2% together with the arrival of 140,000 visitors per month. A total of 1.7 million tourist arrived to Panama, mainly through the International Airport of Tocumen.

The current growth of Panama has also attracted many high-end hotels to the destination that will be opening in the next two years. An example of these hotels is the opening of the first ever Waldorf Astoria hotel in Latin America. The Panamera, is scheduled this year. Also, the prestigious hotel chain Starwood, announced the grand opening of their first Westin hotel in the area of Playa Bonita. A second property in the capital city is scheduled for 2012. As well, the first Trump Hotel Collection property outside the US, Trump Ocean Club Internacional Hotel & Tower, is scheduled to open by June, 2011.

Panama is the ideal destination and meeting point for international meetings, events and conventions in the region. Among the incentives that Panama is currently offering the meetings and conventions industry, is a complementary event at the convention center for a group of more than 500 rooms with a minimum stay of 3 nights. It also includes three airplane tickets and hotel for 3 speakers, a welcome reception for participants with a local show.

Currently Panama is internationally known for its Canal, considered one of the most important engineering projects ever. It is currently undergoing an enlargement that will allow larger ships and annually receives freight traffic worldwide.

Panama’s tourism growth has made Puerto Colón a major shipping center cruise; one that has added two cruise routes and extended the cruise season for two additional months. This will generate about 331 thousand annual tourists; all eager to discover the attractions of the country.

Panama has natural attractions, services, hotels and an impressive convention center, to receive both the adventure and leisure traveler, as business visitors. Panama and its offerings make the visitor the star of their trip, bringing home unique memories of an unforgettable trip.

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