PANAMA’S Black Weekend which ended on, Sunday, September 17, turned out to be a red letter time for the faltering tourism authority and for local retailers and hotels.
Crowds flocked to commercial centers in Panama City and the interior.
"Commercial movement at the mall doubled on the weekend compared to times of high demand," said Nadyi Duque, president of the Panamanian Association of Shopping Centers (APACECOM).
He said that about 104,000 people entered the Albrook Mall, at the start on Friday, September 15, while the next day at 5:00 p.m. there were over 116,000.
“Normal big weekend discount events, the Christmas fortnight and the beginning of the school year bring about 80,000 people to the mall.
"There is not a single merchant who has told me he has not had a happy. Panama Black Weekend” said Duque.
APACECOM, created more than a year ago, with the aim of promoting Panama as a shopping destination, brings together a dozen shopping centers with more than 3,000 stores.
Tourism Authority (ATP), administrator Gustavo Him, said that the test with this new product has been a success, "taking into account that it took place in the most difficult month for trade."
He said that Black Weekend took a year to consolidate, after consultations with the commercial center's tourism operators, hotels, and airlines.
More than 20 buses from Costa Rica loaded with bargain hunters arrived in Panama City and several airlines traveled to Panama with all seats occupied.
Copa Airlines reported preliminary figures indicating the transfer of more than 12,000 passengers to Panama City in holiday packages September 11 to 18, an increase of an additional 1,000 passengers in comparison to the previous week. The passengers came from Central America, Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina.
"Panama Black Weekend is a unique product with no competition in the region "- said Him- "We are alone and we have created a brand as a shopping destination, which is also an important "hook "for the capital city that has positioned itself as a shopping hub. Panama has that leadership and we must take advantage of it," he said.
Hotels, across the city which have been running at 40% occupancy for months were fully booked.