According to the Strategic Government Plan 2010-2011, Panama has as its goal to position itself within the first places as leisure tourism destination and in the businesses, congresses and conventions segment. In this sense, the Government and the ATP [Tourist Authority of Panama] have carried out important actions focused on developing and improving the industry, as of the migratory decree that facilitates and eases the entrance of the tourists to Panama. The new direct air routes from panama to the most important destinations, as well as the creation of a modern Data Center for the tourism service. On the other hand the well known luxury hotel chains such as the RIU Plaza, the Hilton and the first Waldorf Astoria of Latin America are opening their hotels in our territory and these are added to a growing hotel offer which clients are of the highest economic profile.
The hotel offer in Panama accounts for adequate installations for the reception of conventions and travelers with business motives. There are hotels adapted to this client in this city, as well as in the Pacific coast of the province of Coclé and in the Atlantic close to Colón. The physical location of these hotels allows for the complementation of the business tourism visit with leisure activities.
The Panama Tourism Chamber defines Business Tourism as: “that type of tourism practiced by the person dedicated to the commercial activity: entrepreneurs, international sales agents, businessmen and professionals, among others; who, upon developing the work related to their professions, take the opportunity for enjoying the climatic benefits, the scenery, the shopping centers and the amusements of the place or country where they find themselves”.
In the matter of capacity for organizing international events, Panama has been the host of important encounters, such as the meeting of the Central American Tourism Council, the meeting of the Central American Tourist Marketing and the encounter of the Federation of Tourism Chambers of Central America.
The largest part of the infrastructure dedicated to this activity is concentrated in Panama. Currently, a project is being elaborated for the construction of a new world class conventions center which will have 15,000 M2 (161,500 Ft2) three times as much as the capacity of the existing conventions center. As panama is an ideal place as seat of congresses, fairs, incentives and international meetings of all types, the activity offers the opportunity to promote this type of entrance of tourists to our country.
It is estimated that Eco-tourism will grow 16-19% per year, with US$ 700.0 – US$ 900.0 millions annually in the GNP and 55,000 – 80,000 new jobs in all the regions of the country. As an industry, eco-tourism has grown at a rate of approximately 12% annually during the recent past decade and it is expected for it to represent 25% of the total market in 2012. The eco-tourism can include an ample range of offers from luxury five-star ecological “chozas” [huts] with views to the Caribbean up to camping centers within the great National Parks of Panama. To strengthen the opportunity of Panama in eco-tourism, we have a first order world class biodiversity, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Center, the new Biological diversity Museum designed by Ghery, and the proximity to other eco-destinations (for example: Costa Rica).
Panama has the natural resources for the development of a high class ecological tourism. Our possibilities are extended even more if we bring together a binomial between ecological-scientific tourism for its flora and fauna in zones apt for these activities.
The local and migratory bird-watching is one of the most common types of scientific investigations in our country. The tourist that visits a destination with an ecological attractive is a high level income tourist with a great spending capacity, which means that he will demand much higher category services.
Panama has 49 natural parks, reservations and shelters, including five national parks, located only two hours drive away from the City of Panama.
Among the most attractive destinations for an ecological tourist, we have: the San Blas archipelago (with 365 islands of which 80 are inhabited with autochthonous residents of the zone), Bocas del Toro (observation of turtle egg-laying), Escudo de Veraguas Island (has endemic species, with projection of becoming in a protected area), Kuna Yala, the Coiba National Park (Human Patrimony and the object of international studies due to its biodiversity. It is the largest island of the Central American Pacific, Iguana Island (here, the year after year visit of a of a population of yubata and humpback whales, that emigrate from the North and South Pole towards the warm waters of the tropic for mating can be observed), the Las Perlas Archipelago (with 39 islands and 100 small uninhabited islands, this archipelago is considered as one of the best places for sports fishing in the world).
According to the data of the World Tourism Organization, eco-tourism grows at an annual rate of 12%. This is a market niche from which Panama has natural assets of great potential for investments oriented to the ecotourism complemented with the adventure tourism.
The Adventure Tourism is a recreational activity where the environment or natural surroundings is used as a resource for attracting travelers that seek emotions and sensations of discovery and exploration when practicing sports activities that involve certain risks in an entirely natural environment.
Panama has first level hospital infrastructures. In 2009 the Punta Pacífica Hospital has signed an agreement with the Johns Hopkins Medicine International Institute thus becoming the first hospital in Central America associated with this institute.
As a result of this affiliation, this hospital enjoys the best resources including personnel, equipment, consultations and advising, offering a competitive service and a world class medical attention at affordable prices. Panama is a new destination for the tourism medical industry with this well known strategic alliance.
Panama is now perceived as a touristic destination for surgeries at a low cost performed by prestigious surgeons. The private hospitals in Panama offer the foreigners that visit us, the opportunity of saving much money in some minor surgeries.